The human body consists of different joints. These joints allow movements that enable you to walk, to move your arms and to do various physical activities. However, too many movements may not be healthy for the joints. If you aren’t careful, your joints can wear out and become unstable. One example of a commonly used joint in the body is the shoulder joint. It is used when you eat, when you pick up things, when you carry objects and so on. In today’s article, we are going to cover a fairly common injury that can happen in sports or physically demanding jobs, and that is a dislocated shoulder.
What Are The Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder?
If you have a dislocated shoulder, the first fairly obvious thing to experience is pain in the shoulder area and difficulties moving your shoulder around. There are also times when dislocated shoulders and other joint problems bring more systemic conditions. Some people feel nausea and vomit because of the condition, while others feel weak and experience occasional headaches. To clearly identify your possible situation, here are some of the things you need to know about determining a dislocated shoulder:
- First, you need to look for injuries. Injuries may come in different forms. For example, did you recently take a tumble? Or maybe someone opened a door and accidentally hit you in the shoulder? It’s not always easy, but try to think back to recent things that may have caused your shoulder to hurt. Look for swelling or bruising along the area, since that generally means there was an injury.
- Second, you need to check for pain. As mentioned earlier, the most common sign of a dislocated shoulder is pain and soreness in the area. If you move the affected area and you feel sudden pain, your best option is to consult with a doctor immediately. You should also avoid moving your shoulders at that point in order not to aggravate the injury.
- Third, you need to check for numbness. When bones are dislocated, there is a high possibility that nerves will also be affected. In several cases of dislocated shoulders, people feel some tingling sensations and numbness. It could also be because of broken blood vessels and loss of blood in the area.
- Fourth, you need to undergo x-ray examination. This is the fastest way to confirm whether you have joint problems or not. The x-ray examination results will show you the current condition of your shoulder. Go over the results with your doctor in order to get a reliable explanation about the image.
How To Get Relief For a Dislocated Shoulder
Shoulder dislocations can be very painful therefore they should be addressed immediately. However, you should never try addressing them yourself. If you try to cure your own joint injury, you might only worsen the condition. We highly recommend that you contact a doctor immediately to get proper treatment as soon as possible.
In the doctor’s office or ER, they may use medication to relax the patient (i.e. general anesthesia or local anesthetics and sedatives) and then relocate the shoulder manually, depending on what the x-ray results show. A dislocated shoulder can be extremely painful, but once the shoulder has been manipulated back into place, in some patients the pain relief is almost instantaneous. The patient would then need to wear a sling and rest the joint for several weeks and could be prescribed physical therapy to help strengthen the shoulder.
For a more severe case, an operation may be the best option. Surgery is done to repair and tighten the shoulder structure so as to prevent another incident. The most common procedure is open reconstruction, but there are newer, less invasive procedures that are becoming more available such as arthroscopic surgery.
More treatments for shoulder dislocation include the use of an ice pack or cold therapy wrap (see below) for the first 1 to 2 days and then whenever it’s needed for pain relief, since the application of cold therapy can help reduct the inflammation and pain, which gives you some relief. Another treatment for shoulder dislocation is the use of a brace; while this can prevent further recurrence, the brace itself can be difficult for an athlete to continue to play their sport while wearing, so do your research before buying just any brace.
Healing time for shoulder injuries usually takes three to five months. In several cases, former patients experience a repeat of the injury because either they did not complete the whole rehabilitation process or they took treatment and follow up instructions for granted. If this continues to happen, permanent damage to the joints and arms may occur. So, to cut down on your chances of it happening again, patients are advised to continually do some simple exercises and follow out-patient instructions as long as necessary.
Have you every suffered from a dislocated shoulder? If so, we’d love to hear from you. What sort of treatment did you go through? Was surgery necessary? Any tips/tricks for our readers? Just leave a comment below! Thanks for following us and until next time. Also, while we’re on the topic of shoulder pain, check out our series on rotator cuff injuries.
Disclaimer – We are not doctors here at CAHS. The information on shoulder dislocation posted above was for informational purposes only.