The ability to move in many directions makes the shoulder joint the most mobile and unstable joint in the body. When the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) is forcibly removed from its socket in the shallow depression, it leads to a dislocation of the shoulder. Subluxation refers to the partial dislocation of the shoulder. Association with sports or injury and trauma are the prime reasons for its occurrence in young people. Gradual weakening of ligaments and cartilage is the principal reason for its occurrence in older people.
- When the humeral head moves to a position in front of the joint, then it is known as an anterior/forward dislocation.
- It is generally caused by a fall or a blow to an outstretched arm.
- The arm of the patient appears externally rotated and slightly abducted.
- More than 95% of the cases that are registered are of this type, and more than 40% of such cases are those that have been repeated in a person's life.
- This type is rare, and out here the humeral head moves backward towards the shoulder blade.
- This type is associated with specific injuries such as electric shock, seizures, and lightning strikes.
- As X-rays cannot detect a posterior/backward dislocation, it often goes unnoticed. They often go unobserved in older patients.
- Inferior or downward dislocation is the rarest of all types. Out here, the humeral head is forced against the outermost point of the spine of the shoulder blade.
- However, it is the most fatal amongst all types, as it can lead to many complications that may include severe injuries of ligaments, tendons, and muscles.
- It is also known as Luxatio Erecta.
- Severe pain is felt along the arm past the shoulder.
- The region between the neck and the upper arm seems out of place, and the dislocated arm appears longer than the other.
- One experiences numbness in the affected arm.
- Lack of ability to even slightly stretch the arm is a prominent symptom.
- One experiences a feeling of lack of a bone in the side of the shoulder.
- Reduction is an initial treatment that can be given, and it involves restoring the dislocated shoulder to the correct alignment. It relieves pain and stress on the nerves and ligaments around the shoulder. The earlier it is done, the lesser are the chances of other complications cropping up later on.
- If this injury is severe, it has to be treated as a medical emergency. Anesthesia is given to the patient before the treatment, but the level of anesthesia depends upon the type and duration of dislocation, position up to which the arm can be moved, and causative factors.
- Once the shoulder is adjusted back into place, there is a need for periodic X-rays to analyze and ensure that the position of the arm bone is maintained thereafter.
- For frequent displacements, a surgery would be recommended to correct the problem once and for all.
Displacement of the shoulder is a critical injury that can lead to many related complications, and one should always consult a doctor before taking any other steps towards rectifying the problem.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.