When a dislocation in the shoulder occurs, the arm bone must be placed back into the socket of the shoulder, and correct alignment must occur. This process is known as a closed reduction as it does not result in the need for surgery.
When A Dislocation Occurs
In some dislocations, spasms may occur; however, if they do not present at the time of dislocation, pain medication may not be needed. When placing the shoulder back into place, a numbing agent may be used to help ease the patient’s discomfort, but almost always, after the shoulder is placed back into the socket, the pain subsides. Following the closed reduction procedure, an x-ray will be ordered to ensure that the shoulder has been successfully placed back into the socket.
After the shoulder has been placed back into the socket and x-rays have determined that alignment is correct, a sling or splint may be placed to help to promote the healing of the shoulder and to allow for minimal pain. Performing light exercises is critical for the shoulders recovery as keeping it completely immobilized may cause it to freeze or tighten. Within a few weeks, the shoulder should regain normal functions.
If your injury was treated in the emergency room, you would be referred to an orthopedic specialist to follow up and receive dislocated shoulder treatment. When working with an orthopedic specialist, they will evaluate the bones and muscles around the shoulder and ensure that everything is functioning the way it should be. Orthopedic doctors may also suggest working with physical therapy to help strengthen the shoulder as well as to learn exercises to help prevent future occurrences.
It is always best to be cleared by your doctor before beginning any strenuous activities to avoid causing any damage to the shoulder before it has had ample time to heal.
Is surgery ever necessary for a dislocated shoulder?
Most often, surgery is not typical for shoulder dislocations. If the bones or tendons are damaged extensively, then surgery may be suggested. If the shoulder has been dislocated multiple times, surgery may also be suggested to repair or tighten ligaments in the arm bone to avoid future dislocations.
When should I call the doctor after treatment for a dislocated shoulder?
Following shoulder dislocation treatment, if swelling and pain occur in the shoulder or moves down into the arm and hand, contact your doctor. Also, if any discoloration occurs, like the arm turning a purple color, this may be a warning sign that something is wrong. A fever is also another symptom to be mindful of and should be reported to our Atlanta orthopedic doctors.
Our AICA Orthopedics team specializes in treating shoulder dislocations as well as providing education on exercises to help in avoiding future dislocations. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options as well as our rehabilitation plans for your shoulder dislocations by dialing (404) 855-2141 today for an appointment.