Shoulder dislocation can take place when the head of the humerus gets separated or dislocated from its socket. There are three bones that constitute the shoulder joint, and they are known as humerus or arm bone, collarbone or clavicle, and scapula or shoulder blade. The joint between the scapula and the humerus is also known as glenohumeral joint.
The shoulder joint is one the most amazing joints of our body, mainly due to the fact it allows a wide range of motion that no other joint of the human body can provide. However, the same fact makes it one of the most vulnerable joints for dislocation. Shoulder dislocation can be anterior, posterior, or inferior. It is generally caused by a physical injury or trauma. Vehicle accidents and sports injuries are the most common conditions that can dislocate the shoulder joint.
Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder
Shoulder dislocation is often accompanied by symptoms, like shoulder pain, loss of movements, and swelling. Other symptoms like weakness, bruising, and numbness can also be present. Sometimes, the dislocated joint can damage the surrounding nerves, and tear the ligaments or tendons of that area. Generally, when a joint is dislocated, the surrounding muscles get stretched, which induces muscle spasms.
Shoulder Dislocation Therapy
Generally, a dislocated shoulder is first immobilized or kept in a single position with the help of a splint or sling. In the meantime, ice can be applied on the area to get some relief from the agonizing pain. Physicians can also suggest non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to alleviate the pain and swelling.
The process of returning the head of the humerus to its socket, or the dislocated shoulder joint to its position, is termed as reduction, which can be closed or open. Closed reduction involves bringing the joint to its normal position by manipulating the bones and the joints from outside, without making an incision. On the other hand, if surgical method is used for this purpose, it is termed as open reduction.
The methods that are commonly used in closed reduction are, scapular manipulation, external rotation or hennepin maneuver, and traction-counter traction. Anesthesia is usually required, as the process of putting the shoulder back into its position can be quite painful. If these closed reduction methods fail to restore the position of the shoulder joint, then open reduction or surgery can become imperative.
Surgery is also required when the dislocation causes extensive damage to the nerves and muscles or tendons of the surrounding area. Sometimes, the damaged tendons or ligaments can get caught in the joint, thereby making it quite difficult to return the head of the humerus to its socket with the usual closed reduction methods.
The patient may be required to use the sling or splint for several weeks following the shoulder dislocation therapy. Physicians can recommend rehabilitation exercises once the joint is fully restored to its normal position. These exercises can help prevent dislocation in the future by strengthening the muscles. They can help restore the stability of the shoulder joint, and increase its range of motion.
The rehabilitation program relies on some mild muscle-building or isometric exercises, and weight training. A few common exercises that are employed in the rehabilitation process are, isometric shoulder external rotation, isometric shoulder internal rotation, isometric shoulder flexion, shoulder rotation, isometric shoulder adduction, shoulder abduction, shoulder extension, etc. But these exercises should be practiced only under the supervision of a physical therapist.
So, the treatment of this condition can vary significantly depending on the condition of the patient, severity of the condition, and also the skill of the physician. In general, the shoulder joint can be returned to its normal position with the help of closed reduction methods. Open reduction or surgery is rarely required for the treatment of shoulder dislocation. So, when you experience the symptoms of a dislocated shoulder, consider to visit an experienced physician immediately, and get the condition properly evaluated.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be replaced for the advice of a medical professional.