Dislocated shoulder treatment may involve:
- Closed reduction. Your doctor may try some gentle maneuvers to help your shoulder bones back into their proper positions. 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, 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 despite proper strengthening and rehabilitation. In rare cases, you may need surgery if your nerves or blood vessels are damaged.
- Immobilization. Your doctor may use a special splint or sling for a few days to three weeks to keep your shoulder from moving. 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 might 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, strength and stability to your shoulder joint.
If you have a fairly simple shoulder dislocation without major nerve or tissue damage, your shoulder joint likely will improve over a few weeks, but you'll be at increased risk for future dislocation. Resuming activity too soon after shoulder dislocation may cause you to injure your shoulder joint or to dislocate it again.
Aug. 16, 2014
- Sherman SC, et al. Shoulder dislocation and reduction. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Dislocated shoulder. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00035. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Questions and answers about shoulder problems. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Shoulder_Problems/default.asp. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Traumatic shoulder dislocation. American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. http://www.sportsmed.org/Patient/Sports_Tips/AOSSM_Sports_Tips_Sheets/. Accessed June 30, 2014.
- Zacchilli MA, et al. Epidemiology of shoulder dislocations presenting to emergency departments in the United States. The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. 2010;92:542.