Do I Need Surgery for My Dislocated Shoulder?

Oct 17, 2019

Girl with dislocated shoulder in sling wondering if she needs surgeryDealing with shoulder dislocation is never fun. You may find it difficult to do much of anything with that arm for several days or weeks. To help the arm heal, wearing a sling for a few days might help, too.


In some severe cases, surgery is necessary to repair the damage to the ligament. How do you know if you’re in need of surgery for your dislocated shoulder? Here are some signs that it may be the best option and some information on recovering from the procedure.


What Is a Dislocated Shoulder?


The first thing you need to realize is that a dislocated shoulder and a separated shoulder are not the same. With a dislocated shoulder, the arm bone has actually come out of the shoulder socket.


For many patients, the bone can be popped back into the socket without any issue. However, if your shoulder is dislocated multiple times or if it is badly dislocated, you could end up with chronic weakness in the shoulder.


A separated shoulder, on the other hand, doesn’t actually affect this joint. Instead, the term is used to describe damage to the ligaments connecting your shoulder blade to your collarbone. Without these ligaments, the collar bone can actually move. For these patients, they can recover without surgery.

What Are the Signs of a Dislocated Shoulder?


If your shoulder has been dislocated, you are likely to feel severe pain in your upper arm and shoulder. You will not be able to move your arm without a stabbing pain.


If your shoulder has been dislocated multiple times, or if it has been dislocated in certain ways, you may have a bump form on your shoulder. This bump may never go away.


Treating a Dislocated Shoulder


Your dislocated shoulder needs to be treated as soon as possible. The arm bone will have to be put back into the socket. The longer it is dislocated, the more swelling and pain you will experience.


After the damage has been repaired, you will need to rest and use ice to reduce swelling and give the arm time to heal. You may need to take anti-inflammatory medication and wear a sling. Plus, you may also need to do some exercises to help strengthen the arm.


However, if the pain continues or if you experience weakness in your arm for longer than a few weeks, you may have to have surgery. Severe tears can also need surgery to repair the ligaments. This procedure will help tighten up the ligaments and make certain that the bones are correctly positioned.


How Long Does Recovery Take?


After the procedure, you will need to be careful with your arm and shoulder for several months. You’ll likely need to wear your sling for at least six weeks, maybe longer depending on how damaged the ligaments were.


You will also likely need to do some physical therapy exercises to help build up strength in the arm and the muscles that support the joint and bones. Typically, these are exercises you can do at home once you’ve been taught how to properly do them.


After surgery, be careful that you don’t re-injure the arm. This means carefully watching how much you lift and avoiding doing anything too strenuous while you recover. Once your doctor has determined that the ligaments have healed, you can usually resume all of your work duties and hobbies without any danger of causing additional damage.


Get Help from an Orthopedic Specialist


The last thing you want is to have surgery, but sometimes it’s necessary. The specialists at AICA Orthopedics will thoroughly examine your dislocated shoulder and help you decide if surgery is the right option or not. If it is, you’ll be guided by a professional orthopedic surgeon with years of experience through every step of the process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.


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