Shoulder Dislocation Treatment, Recovery, Recurrence

If you have suffered from a shoulder dislocation, you know how incredibly painful it can be. A shoulder dislocation can be either partial, a subluxation, or total. Whether or not the humerus bone comes completely out of the joint, a trip to an orthopaedic surgeon could be your best bet for successful recovery.

If you think you have dislocated your shoulder, you may want to seek out an orthopaedic surgeon that is fellowship trained in shoulder or sports medicine. If you are unable to get in quickly, you should go to an emergency room. In addition to giving an accurate diagnosis, an orthopaedic surgeon can help treat your injury and prevent a recurrence of what can be a common repeat injury.

Once you get in to see your orthopaedic surgeon, you will likely have an x-ray taken  along with a medical exam to properly diagnose your shoulder dislocation. There are several ways to promote recovery for your shoulder after it has been reduced, or put back into place. Here are some of the treatment options your doctor might suggest:

  1. Wear a sling to immobilize the joint while it heals properly.
  2. Apply ice, never directly on the skin, to help with pain and swelling.
  3. Take over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, Tylenol, or acetaminophen. You might also benefit from nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or Advil.
  4. Attend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint as well as restore range of motion.

Unfortunately, once you have suffered from a shoulder dislocation, you are more likely to experience a repeat injury down the road. The best way to prevent recurrence of a shoulder dislocation is to follow a couple of steps.

  1. Avoid activity in which your shoulder is prone to injury.
  2. Make sure to stretch adequately before engaging in physical activity.
  3. Work with a physical therapist or rehabilitation expert to strengthen the shoulder joint.
  4. Surgery may be an option if torn ligaments need repair for complete recovery.


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