Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Dislocated shoulder treatment may involve:

  • Closed reduction. Your doctor may try some gentle maneuvers to help your shoulder bones back into their proper positions — a process called closed reduction. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling, you may need a muscle relaxant or sedative or, rarely, a general anesthetic before manipulation of your shoulder bones. When your shoulder bones are back in place, any severe pain should improve almost immediately.
  • Surgery. You may need surgery if you have a weak shoulder joint or ligaments and tend to have recurring shoulder dislocations (shoulder instability) despite proper strengthening and rehabilitation. In rare cases, you may need surgery if your nerves or blood vessels are damaged due to the dislocation.
  • Immobilization. Your doctor may immobilize your shoulder with a special splint or sling for a period of time ranging from a few days to three weeks. How long you wear the splint or sling depends on the nature of your shoulder dislocation and how soon the splint is applied after your dislocation.
  • Medication. Your doctor may also prescribe a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant to keep you comfortable while your shoulder heals.
  • Rehabilitation. After your shoulder splint or sling is removed, you'll begin a gradual rehabilitation program designed to restore range of motion and strength to your shoulder joint.

If you've experienced a fairly simple shoulder dislocation without major nerve or tissue damage, your shoulder joint likely will return to a near-normal or fully normal condition. But trying to resume activity too soon after shoulder dislocation may cause you to injure your shoulder joint or to dislocate it again.

Aug. 31, 2011