What is it?

Dislocation of the shoulder is a common sports injury. Dislocation can be anterior or posterior, with anterior being the most common. Depending on the severity, there may be damage to the joint capsule, labrum, surroundings muscle and bone.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Severe pain
  • Lack of motion of the arm
  • A bulge can be seen at the front of the shoulder close to the armpit, and an empty socket can be felt where the head of the humerus is normally located.

Who gets it and why?

This is a common injury amongst younger people aged 20 to 30 and most often happens during sport. A typical scenario is when the sportsperson falls on an outstretched arm and the shoulder takes the impact. Another mechanism of injury is during a collision with another player and the arm is pulled backwards and away from the body.

Diagnosis, Recovery and Prevention 

The earlier the injury is diagnosed, the less difficult it is to treat and the sooner the athlete can return to sport. . The general practitioner will manipulate the joint back into place under anesthetic. Typically, an X ray is performed both during and after manipulation to ensure proper alignment and that there is no fracture present. The joint is then immobilised in a sling for healing to take place.

The prognosis for a good recovery is likely assuming there are no complications during healing. If it is a first time dislocation, chances for a full recovery are much better than if the injury has taken place more than once. Light joint specific exercises can be commenced after 2 – 4 weeks. A return to sport should not be considered for up to 3 months until full strength and mobility has returned. A course of physical therapy in conjunction with a targeted exercise plan for the joint should ensure a return to daily activities and resumption of sport.

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