I Dislocated My Shoulder…Now What?
Shoulder dislocations and shoulder instability can be a very scary event.
Sometimes they occur after a bad fall, for some patients they occur while playing sports, and for other patients they can occur simply by placing your arm or shoulder in the wrong position.
Fortunately, although shoulder dislocations can be very painful and scary, they usually do not require surgical treatment, and with proper evaluation and care by an orthopedic shoulder specialist such as Dr. Nelson, they may not affect the long-term health of your shoulder.
The first thing to understand about shoulder dislocations and shoulder instability is that there are different types of them.
Some patients simply feel clicking and popping in their shoulder, and some patients do not feel anything like this but only feel scared when their arm is placed in a certain position. Depending on the patient, many of these conditions can be treated with physical therapy and some activity changes.
The other more serious variety of dislocation is where the ball-and-socket joint actually comes apart, the ball “jumps” over the edge of the socket and gets stuck there. This type of dislocation usually requires treatment either by an experienced specialist (a physical trainer, orthopedic surgeon, or doctor in the emergency department) and sometimes requires medication to make you relaxed and sleepy to do so. Once the shoulder is “back in place,” you will probably need a sling for about two weeks to allow the shoulder to heal, followed by slow return to gentle activities and motion before returning to full activity.
It is important to understand the difference between these because all of these types of shoulder dislocations and instability are treated differently.
But there are some types of dislocations that require surgical treatment.
Every time you dislocate your shoulder, it is possible and very likely that some structures are torn and damaged. Unfortunately these structures are what makes your shoulder stable, so with each dislocation, this shoulder becomes less stable. This can lead to a difficult situation where simple everyday activities of daily living can cause dislocations. For example, placing groceries in the backseat of your car can cause shoulder dislocation. If this occurs, surgical treatment is necessary to repair the damaged structures and restore stability to the shoulder to avoid repeated dislocations.
Other patients that are more likely to require surgery include young competitive athletes, especially those that play certain sports that require contact. Because of the large forces and energy of the hits involved in sports such as football and rugby, these sports are more likely to cause shoulder dislocations. If young patients with shoulder instability want to continue to play their favorite sport without dislocating the shoulder more and more, surgical treatment may be necessary.
Do have problems with shoulder instability? Have you dislocated your shoulder before and continue to have pain? Do you find that you are often scared that you will dislocate your shoulder doing very simple things? If so, Dr. Nelson is a trained shoulder specialist who understands your condition and how to treat it.
Call 919-872-5296 to schedule an appointment.