Shoulder Dislocation

What is dislocation of the shoulder?

If you have dislocated your shoulder, your upper arm bone (humerus) has moved out of your shoulder joint. This is the most frequently dislocated major joint of your body. Dislocation is often caused by a significant force that separates your shoulder joint’s ball (the top rounded portion of your upper arm bone) from your joint’s socket (glenoid).

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What causes a shoulder dislocation?

Your shoulder can dislocate in several ways, including:

  • Forward and downward dislocation. These are the most common types of dislocations. They usually result from falling on your outstretched hand or on your shoulder itself.
  • Backward dislocation. This type of dislocation may be caused by a direct blow to the front of your shoulder, or the violent twisting of your upper arm.

Your shoulder can be either partially or completely dislocated. Partial dislocation is when the head of your upper arm is partially out of your shoulder socket. Complete dislocation is when the head of your upper arm is completely out of your shoulder socket.

What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

The following are the most common symptoms of a dislocated shoulder. However, you may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your upper arm and shoulder, which is usually worse when you move them
  • Swelling
  • Numbness and weakness
  • Bruising
  • Deformity of your shoulder

The symptoms of a dislocated shoulder may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How is a shoulder dislocation diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical exam, diagnostic procedures for a dislocated shoulder usually include an X-ray.