Symptoms | Causes | Treatment
A single dislocation of your shoulder joint can be an excruciatingly painful experience. Unfortunately, there’s a chronic condition known as “shoulder instability” that can make you susceptible to recurring dislocations.
What Happens When You Dislocate Your Shoulder
With a shoulder dislocation, the end of your upper arm bone (the humerus) comes either partially or completely out of the socket in your shoulder joint. Shoulder instability may be present if you feel pain when you move your shoulder or hear a popping or grinding sound when you use the shoulder. Other potential symptoms of shoulder instability include:
- Inflammation or swelling in the shoulder
- Loss of the use of the shoulder
- Numbness or partial paralysis in the shoulder
You may be at greater risk of shoulder instability if you have a significant history of involvement in sports that involve overhead motions or repeated use of the shoulder. Tennis, volleyball, baseball, weightlifting, swimming, and even football (primarily for quarterbacks) can increase the likelihood of shoulder instability.
Any type of injury to your shoulder can put you at risk of shoulder instability, as can falling on an outstretched hand. Occasionally, shoulder instability may stem from other medical conditions, such as an enlarged shoulder socket or shoulder ligaments that are too loose.
Treatment for Shoulder Instability
There are non-invasive forms of treatment that can be effective for shoulder instability. Often, the first course of treatment is simple rest. That may be what your shoulder needs to heal and rebuild muscle strength. Ice packs and medication also may be effective in the short term to address any pain associated with shoulder instability or a dislocated shoulder.
If you have dislocated your shoulder, you need to have it put back in place. This procedure, called a “closed reduction,” typically is done with some form of anesthesia. During a closed reduction, doctors will manipulate your shoulder joint so that all bones are properly realigned.