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Your First Steps After a Shoulder Dislocation

Your First Steps After a Shoulder Dislocation

Your shoulder joint is incredibly powerful and versatile. That’s because the ball-and-socket structure allows you to easily move your arm in virtually any direction.

However, your shoulder’s strengths are also its weaknesses. 

The socket in which the ball of your upper arm bone sits is shallow. As a result, it’s easy for your shoulder joint to dislodge. It doesn’t matter if you play a high-impact contact sport or you’re a couch potato, any slip and fall or blow to your shoulder can knock it out of place.

That’s why our team of specialists at Somers Orthopaedic Surgery & Sports Medicine Group want you to know exactly what to do when the worst happens. Here’s everything you should know about caring for a dislocated shoulder.

Resist the urge to reset your shoulder

As much as you might want to, we strongly recommend that you don’t try to pop your shoulder back into place. Doing so can damage vital tissues, nerves, and blood vessels in your shoulder joint.

Do your best to keep still

As much as you can, try to avoid moving your upper arm. If it’s possible, ask someone to fashion a simple sling to hold your lower arm across your chest, with your elbow bent at a right angle. You can keep yourself comfortable and your shoulder supported by placing something soft, such as a folded blanket or pillow, between your arm and chest. 

Try ice

When you dislocate your shoulder, chances are you’re in a lot of pain. You can manage that pain and also reduce swelling by gently applying ice or a cold compress to your shoulder joint.

Get help right away

A dislocated shoulder is not a wait-and-see injury. There’s no amount of time that will see your shoulder joint suddenly restored. That means that you should head to our urgent care clinic as soon as possible. We have the experience necessary to carefully reset your shoulder joint and treat the injury. 

How do I know if I dislocated my shoulder?

There are lots of ways you can injure your shoulder. For that reason, it’s important that you recognize the warning signs of a dislocation so that you can get treatment quickly. Most people can feel that the joint is out of place, and here are some of the most common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:

Identifying these signs and getting help quickly are crucial to help you avoid further damage. 

What are my treatment options?

Our first step in treating a dislocated shoulder is to gently move your shoulder bone back into position. This may sound painful, but once your joint is back in place, your pain actually subsides almost immediately. 

After that, we recommend a course of action based on the severity of your dislocation as well as factors that may influence your chances of repeat dislocations. More severe injuries may require surgery to fully repair your shoulder. Other treatments include:

How do I return to activity after a dislocated shoulder?

Once treated properly, pain and limited function from shoulder dislocations fortunately resolve over the course of a few weeks. However, you’ll be at an increased risk for future dislocations if you aren’t careful. The good news is that dislocating your shoulder doesn’t have to mean game over. Find out how to get back to your normal activity levels by reading our blog on returning to activity after your injury

You can also take these simple steps to avoid a dislocation in the future:

Whether you’ve dislocated your shoulder or you simply want more information on how to protect your joint, we’re here to walk you through every step. Don’t hesitate to request an appointment online or over the phone at any one of our five conveniently located offices.

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