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Learn about your shoulder dislocation, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your shoulder dislocation from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Shoulder Dislocation Checker

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Your Shoulder Dislocation May Also be Known as:
Dislocated shoulder
Shoulder out of place
Shoulder popped out
Shoulder popping out of place

Shoulder Dislocation Symptoms

It's fourth down with 35 seconds left in your annual family touch-football game. You see the spiraling football coming in your direction, you reach out and make a perfect catch…

But then you trip, fall and land directly on your shoulder. The pain and discomfort come on quickly.

Perhaps with not as much excitement, but many of us have experienced pain in the shoulder upon breaking a fall with an outstretched hand or falling on a hard surface. Sometimes the pain is a sign of an underlying injury to the shoulder joint.

The shoulder is a very mobile joint and vulnerable to dislocation. A dislocation is an injury in which a bone is moved from its joint socket. A dislocated shoulder happens when your upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped socket that is part of your shoulder blade.

See this image for a visual representation

It is important to know how to recognize a shoulder dislocation and seek the proper treatment.

Suspect a shoulder dislocation if there is:

  • A visibly deformed or out-of-place shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising in the area of contact
  • Intense pain when the injury occurs
  • Difficulty or inability to move the shoulder and/or arm

Shoulder Dislocation Causes Overview

  • Sports injuries: Shoulder dislocation is a common injury in contact sports, such as football and hockey, and in sports that may involve falls, such as skiing, volleyball or cross-country biking.

  • Trauma (unrelated to sports): A car accident can result in a significant blow to your shoulder that can cause a dislocation.

  • Falls: You may dislocate your shoulder during a fall, such as from a ladder, tripping on an icy sidewalk or falling on an outstretched hand.

Top 4 Shoulder Dislocation Causes

  1. 1.Recurrent Shoulder Dislocation

    Recurrent subluxation of the shoulder is a condition that results in a persistent partial dislocation of the shoulder joint.

    You should visit your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options. Physical therapy is often recommended. If that fails, surgery may be considered.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain from overuse, pain in the front of the shoulder, shoulder dislocation
    Symptoms that always occur with recurrent shoulder dislocation:
    shoulder pain from overuse, shoulder dislocation
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Dislocated Shoulder

    The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. This means the round top of the arm bone fits into the groove in the shoulder blade. A dislocated shoulder is when the entire ball is out of the socket.

    A dislocated shoulder requires immediate medical attention in order to 1) confirm diagnosis with an X-ray, and 2) pop the shoulder back in place and immobilize it (to start the healing process). Surgery is considered if this keeps happening.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, constant shoulder pain, shoulder dislocation, shoulder injury, shoulder popping
    Symptoms that always occur with dislocated shoulder:
    pain in one shoulder, shoulder dislocation, constant shoulder pain
    Symptoms that never occur with dislocated shoulder:
    mild shoulder pain
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room

    Shoulder Dislocation Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having shoulder dislocation.

    Take a quiz
  3. 3.Dislocated Shoulder With Nerve or Artery Damage

    The shoulder is a ball and socket joint. This means the round top of the arm bone fits into the groove in the shoulder blade. A dislocated shoulder is when the entire ball is out of the socket. If the dislocation affects blood supply or a nerve, medical attention is extremely important.

    You should go to the ER immediately for treatment. A dislocated shoulder that affects blood supply or damages a nerve may require immediate surgery to keep the whole arm healthy.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in one shoulder, shoulder pain from an injury, arm weakness, severe shoulder pain, arm numbness
    Symptoms that always occur with dislocated shoulder with nerve or artery damage:
    pain in one shoulder, shoulder dislocation
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  4. 4.Acromioclavicular (Ac) Shoulder Joint Injury

    The shoulder is made up of three bones - the shoulder blade (scapula), collar bone (clavicle), and arm bone (humerus). The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is a joint that is in the front of the shoulder, where the collar bone and shoulder blade meet. This joint is stabilized by ligaments, which can tear if the two bones are separated from one another. This is most commonly caused by falling on the shoulder.

    You should visit your primary care physician within the next 24 hours. AC joint injuries are usually treated non-surgically with pain medications and wearing a shoulder sling. Your doctor may coordinate care with a physical therapist as well.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    constant shoulder pain, pain in one shoulder, shoulder pain from an injury, difficulty moving the shoulder, shoulder pain near the end of the collarbone
    Symptoms that always occur with acromioclavicular (ac) shoulder joint injury:
    shoulder pain near the end of the collarbone, constant shoulder pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Shoulder Dislocation Treatments and Relief

Seek prompt medical attention if you suspect a shoulder dislocation and try not to move your arm until you see a medical professional.

A doctor will first attempt to reposition the upper arm back into the shoulder socket. Severe pain may be alleviated with this maneuver. Depending on the amount of pain and swelling you come in with, your doctor may use a muscle relaxant or sedative before manipulating the bones.

After repositioning, you doctor may then proceed with the following shoulder dislocation treatments:

  • Immobilization (Sling): Your doctor may use a sling to keep your shoulder from moving. You may have to wear the sling anywhere from days to weeks depending on the severity of the shoulder dislocation and how soon you presented to the doctor.
  • Physical Therapy or Rehabilitation: After your sling is removed, your doctor may prescribe stretching exercises or a physical therapy/rehabilitation program to help you restore range of motion, strength and stability to your shoulder.
  • Medication: Your doctor may prescribe medication or a muscle relaxant to help with swelling or pain and keep you comfortable while your shoulder heals.
  • Surgery: If you have a weak shoulder or have a history of repeated shoulder dislocations, you may need surgery to correctly reposition the bones or tighten the ligaments around your shoulder joint.

After your visit to the doctor, there are many things you can do at home to help you're your shoulder dislocation symptoms:

  • Rest: Avoid lifting objects or moving your injured shoulder over your head. Avoid painful movements and give your shoulder the time to heal properly.
  • Apply Ice Then Heat: Putting ice on your injured shoulder will help reduce the swelling and pain. When the swelling and pain have improved, you can apply a heat pack to your shoulder to relax sore or tight muscles. Limit application of ice or heat for only 20 minutes at a time. You can do this every couple of hours for relief.
  • Stretch and Strengthen: As directed by your doctor or physical therapist, do gentle exercises at home to maintain range of motion in your shoulder, prevent stiffness and strengthen your joint.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Shoulder Dislocation

  • Q.How severe is your shoulder pain?
  • Q.Which of the following describes your physical fitness:
  • Q.How long has your shoulder pain been going on?
  • Q.How would you explain the cause of your shoulder pain?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our shoulder dislocation symptom checker.

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Shoulder Dislocation Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced shoulder dislocation have also experienced:

    • 26% Pain in One Shoulder
    • 10% Grinding Sensation in Shoulder
    • 7% Shoulder Pain
  • People who have experienced shoulder dislocation were most often matched with:

    • 20% Dislocated Shoulder With Nerve or Artery Damage
    • 11% Dislocated Shoulder
    • 3% Recurrent Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder Dislocation Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having shoulder dislocation.

Take a quiz