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Physical therapy for a dislocated shoulder

What is a dislocated shoulder?

Because the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, it’s highly susceptible to dislocation. When the shoulder is dislocated, the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of its cup-shaped socket (glenoid). A dislocated shoulder is visibly deformed or out-of-place, so a patient will usually recognize that their shoulder is dislocated as soon as the injury occurs.

Dislocated shoulders can be either complete or partial. A partial dislocation, called a subluxation, occurs when the top of the humerus only partially comes out of its socket. A complete dislocation means that the head of the humerus is completely removed from the socket. Both are highly painful.

After the shoulder is dislocated, patients should not attempt to force the arm bone back into place. This can damage the joint, as well as the muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels that surround it, causing further injury. Instead, patients should ice the injured shoulder until they receive medical attention. After receiving treatment, most patients will need to undergo a physical therapy program to restore full range of motion.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Dislocated shoulder symptoms

The most telling symptoms of a dislocated shoulder are pain and visible shoulder deformity. If the shoulder appears to be a different shape after a patient is injured or applies excessive force to the shoulder joint, it’s likely that the shoulder was dislocated.

A dislocation can be forward, backward, or downward. Patients are likely to experience numbness, swelling, weakness, and bruising regardless of the type of shoulder dislocation. In some cases, patients may tear ligaments in the shoulder, damage nerves, or experience spasms in the neck.

The most common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • Deformity
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

Source: Ortho Info

What causes a dislocated shoulder?

The most common causes of dislocated shoulders are sports injuries, accidents, falling, and seizures, which can cause the humerus to pull out of the socket. Dislocated shoulders are almost always a result of physical trauma; they do not occur simply due to overuse of the shoulder joint.

The two populations that are at greatest risk of dislocating a shoulder are young men and elderly women. That’s because young men are likely to be involved in sports and other physical activities, while elderly women tend to have more brittle bones and are more likely to fall.

The most common causes of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • Sports injuries
  • FallingSeizures
  • Seizures
  • Contact injuries

Source: Medline Plus

Physical therapy for a dislocated shoulder

Most patients will need to keep their arm in a sling after the shoulder has been put back into place, however it is typically recommended that patients immediately begin physical therapy exercises to ensure the shoulder won’t freeze due to immobility.

Physical therapy for a dislocated shoulder will focus on relieving pain, restoring range of motion, increasing strength, and improving posture. Common strategies include icing, passive motion work, electrical stimulation, gentle exercises, and postural training.

Source: Very Well Health

Luna’s physical therapists treat
dislocated shoulders

Luna has physical therapists across the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and Orange County with years of experience treating patients with dislocated shoulders. Our PTs will design physical therapy programs that will restore strength and motion the shoulder joint.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy in the comfort of their homes, at work, at the gym, or anywhere else it’s needed. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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