What Is a Shoulder Subluxation?

Aug 23, 2021

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that includes the ball of the humerus, or arm bone, and that fits into the socket. Damage to your shoulder joint can lead to injury, including a shoulder subluxation. A subluxation is a medical term used to describe when a bone or joint is dislocated or out of place. Shoulder subluxations are an unfortunate but common experience in car accidents and the shoulder joint is actually one of the easiest joints to dislocate in the body. Your shoulder allows for a wide range of motion, which also makes it more susceptible to injury. Visit your auto accident chiropractor for quality treatment and care after a wreck and to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for your shoulder pain.

What a Shoulder Subluxation Feels Like

If you experience a shoulder subluxation, the first thing you will likely notice is shoulder pain. Because a shoulder subluxation is only a partial dislocation, the ball of the arm bone hasn’t completely separated from the socket. That means you may have some mobility in your shoulder joint, though it will likely be hindered by the injury and cause you significant shoulder pain. Swelling in the area is also common after a shoulder subluxation. Swelling is one of the body’s natural responses to an injury and a flood of fluids to the area can compress nearby nerves, causing you pain. In addition to swelling, a shoulder subluxation will likely also cause weakness in the area when you try to move your shoulder and arm. You may also experience a pins-and-needles sensation of tingling and numbness in your arm when nerves in the shoulder joint are affected.

When to See a Chiropractor

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you have fully dislocated your shoulder or not. Don’t try to pop your shoulder back into place on your own; instead, visit an auto accident chiropractor for professional assistance. If you try to pop your joint back into place yourself, you run the risk of damaging muscles, ligaments, or nerves that can end up causing you more pain down the line. You can also unintentionally end up damaging the shoulder joint itself, which can lead to chronic pain and other issues. Instead, try to immobilize or limit the use of the shoulder and arm until you can get to a chiropractor. A chiropractor can help by first determining whether you have a shoulder subluxation or a full dislocation. They may recommend an X-ray or CT scan to assess the shoulder joint, confirm the type of dislocation, and also whether or not any nearby soft tissues were damaged. This diagnostic information will help determine the extent of your injury and inform your treatment plan.

Treatment of a Shoulder Subluxation

Here is a general picture of what the treatment process for shoulder subluxation will look like.

  • Put the joint back into place
    The first thing your chiropractor will need to do is put the joint back in place. This is called a reduction and involves safely and gently helping the arm bone to slide back into the socket of the shoulder joint. Once the joint is back in place, many people start to experience an immediate decrease in pain symptoms. Your chiropractor will want to test the joint after the reduction to make sure it is in the correct position and functioning properly.
  • Immobilize the shoulder joint
    During the immediate aftermath, the healing process will include a period of time where you limit the use of the shoulder joint. In order to do this, your auto accident chiropractor may recommend a sling to help immobilize the area and allow the healing process to begin. You should avoid using the shoulder joint so that swelling can go down and also prevent the joint from slipping out of place while it heals.
  • Manage any joint pain
    Your chiropractor will recommend safe and natural ways to manage any lingering joint pain as the area heals. Applying a cold pack to the area will help relieve pain while also reducing swelling in the area. After the first few days, you can also alternate with applying heat to help soothe the muscles as well.

If you are experiencing shoulder pain after a car accident, then visit an auto accident chiropractor at AICA Orthopedics near you. Our team of chiropractors will provide you with comprehensive care and a treatment plan to help you start experiencing pain relief as soon as possible.


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