Shoulder Dislocation and Instability

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Overview of Shoulder Dislocation and Instability

Shoulder dislocations or “dead arm” are the displacement of the humerus head away from the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula). Most commonly, these dislocations are anterior meaning that the humerus is displaced anteriorly . Subluxation refers to a partial dislocation where the two joint surfaces have lost their usual contact.

Dislocations are more common in younger patients after a trauma or fall onto an outstretched hand or violent twisting. It is also more common among athletes doing overhead activities like volleyball or throwoing .It can occur when the muscles and ligaments of the shoulder are torn or stretched beyond their normal limits,

Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation and Instability

Symptoms include pain, swelling and/or weakness in the arm, and a feeling of looseness. Symptoms can range from a lack of dexterity in some movements to a complete inability to move the arm.

Treatment of Shoulder Dislocation and Instability

Early treatment consists of an immobilization of the shoulder joint for up to 3 wks, followed by strengthening exercises and rehabilitation. Exercises for rotator cuff strengthening are also prescribed.

Indications for surgery include repetitive dislocations that happen more than 3 times per year or after a failed nonoperative therapy. Indications are also depending on patient demands or athletes that are willing to heal faster.
Surgery consists of reattaching the torn labrum and glenohumeral ligaments either with open surgery or with arthroscopy (See Arthroscopic shoulder stabilization).