Shoulder dislocation

Dislocated shoulders

Have you ever dislocated your shoulder? If so, do you worry that it could happen again?

Let’s take a quick look at the shoulder joint. It consists of the upper arm bone (the humerus), which fits into a ball and socket on the shoulder blade. This also attaches to the collarbone.

These bones connect with various ligaments and muscles that enable movement in many planes! The shoulder joint is very mobile; in fact it has the largest range of motion of any joint in the body. However, as a result, this means that it is not very stable. As such, if you fall or injure your shoulder, you may either break your collarbone, or dislocate the shoulder entirely. Usually, the arm pops out the front of the socket, however in some rarer cases it dislocates to the back.

A dislocated shoulder can cause serious pain! Attempting to replace it yourself can be tricky. There is also a risk of damage to the nerve or blood supply in that area too. For this reason, suspected shoulder dislocations should get prompt medical attention.

Will it happen again?

If your shoulder has dislocated before, the supporting ligaments will have been stretched or torn. This can lead to chronic instability of the shoulder. After a traumatic dislocation, 80% of patients under 35 years old suffer from shoulder instability. However, there are also hereditary conditions that cause looseness (laxity) of tendons and ligament tissue. This makes people prone to joint dislocation as well. “Double-jointed” people often experience this.

When the ball of the joint does not sit correctly in the socket, any movement or exercise may produce pain. In some cases, the shoulder may not completely dislocate again, but it could move further out of the socket than it should. This is called subluxation.

Athletes in sports where there is a lot of overhead movement can be prone to unstable shoulder joints. This could include swimmers, volleyball players, or tennis players for example. For some people, a loose shoulder joint causes anxiety about a potential dislocation. This therefore reduces their performance or range of motion.

What helps stabilise shoulders?

Instability of the shoulder can lead to arthritis of the joint later on. So whether you have shoulder issues or not, it’s important to focus on them! Any muscular over or underdevelopment could promote injury. Your chiropractor will be able to determine the best treatment option for you, which could be varied. Exercise like Pilates or Yoga that focus on thoracic mobility and reducing tightness around the chest (which causes hunched shoulders) can be beneficial. In other cases, hot and cold therapy, taping, wearing special slings and massage have also been shown to help.

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