What is an Anterior Shoulder Dislocation?

Shoulder dislocations are not at all uncommon, because the shoulder joint itself isn’t overwhelmingly stable. The entire physiological function of the shoulder is that it enjoys a tremendous range of motion, but the drawback to the shoulder making so many types of movement is that the joint sacrifices stability to provide it. A shoulder injury can cause the individual suffering it to feel immense pain until the problem is able to be properly corrected. The difference, or more appropriately, the qualifier for a shoulder dislocation to be considered anterior in nature is that the upper arm bone, or humerus, is pushed forward toward the front of the body when the dislocation occurs. This is by far the most common type of shoulder dislocation. Over 90% of shoulder dislocations seen by medical professionals are anterior shoulder dislocations. Dislocations can happen in a number of ways, and they affect people of all ages and lifestyles. The most commonly seen shoulder dislocations are called anterior shoulder dislocations. These types of injuries occur when the arm is extended and the person either falls or is hit incredibly hard mid-extension.


How Might Someone Sustain an Anterior Shoulder Dislocation?

Older adults sometimes sustain these anterior shoulder dislocations when they fall while reaching for something. Their arm will be extended toward the object or railing, or they might have extended it to break their fall. Instead of providing the brace they were intending, unfortunately sometimes this action can cause a shoulder injury. Others might suffer an anterior dislocation when they have one of their arms raised above their head and a strong impact causes their upper arm bone to come out of the socket from the shoulder joint. The most likely scenario in which a younger person suffers from this type of injury is in the case of a sports injury. The child or adolescent will likely be in moderate to severe pain if they dislocate their shoulder.

What Are the Telltale Signs of an Anterior Shoulder Dislocation?

For most who have endured a dislocation, the pain or nature of the incident is a strong enough indicator to let them know that they have a problem that needs medical attention. In other cases, there are a few other symptoms that can be watched for in order to self-diagnose:

  • Anterior Shoulder Dislocation being treated by AICA doctors for elderly woman Swelling at the site of the shoulder injury
  • Inability to move the shoulder joint; if movement is possible, it will be severely reduced
  • Bruising to the area where the pain is localized
  • The shoulder joint may appear distorted – for an anterior dislocation, the arm often appears to be more square than the usual rounded appearance
  • You may also be able to see the humerus jutting out, whereas it will normally not be visible

When you have assessed your condition and determine that there is cause for concern with your shoulder injury, you should seek medical attention. From there, your doctor will be able to confirm your suspicions through the use of a physical examination of the shoulder joint, particularly as compared to the uninjured shoulder on the other side, and potentially diagnostic testing to better visualize the injury.

Do These Injuries Always Result in Anterior Shoulder Dislocation Surgery?

Shoulder dislocations are painful injuries which understandably will severely limit the individual’s range of motion. The person who has suffered a dislocation will, in all likelihood, not be able to manage without seeking out professional medical help to resolve the injury. The expert doctors and surgeons at AICA Orthopedics are able to treat shoulder dislocations in several ways, depending on the specifics of the injury sustained. Many of the anterior shoulder dislocations that our team sees can be effectively reduced without the need for surgical intervention. The doctor will set the arm back into the shoulder socket with the use of some sort of anesthetic without needing to fully sedate the patient or even open any part of the arm. In other cases, surgeons will be able to perform anterior shoulder dislocation surgery with the use of what is called arthroscopic stabilization. This means that the shoulder can be accessed surgically and noninvasively to reduce the recovery time and potential side effects for the patient.

What Is Anterior Shoulder Dislocation Recovery Like?

Following a shoulder dislocation, the patient will often need to observe a physical therapy regimen to make sure that the shoulder’s range of motion is fully restored. Immediately following the procedure, the shoulder should regain its general motility, possibly accompanied by a bit of residual pain or soreness. If all goes well, the shoulder should begin to function normally without pain or difficulty in four to eight weeks. It is important that, in the way of prevention, an individual who has suffered from a shoulder dislocation perform shoulder strengthening exercises to ward off a repeat incident.

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