Fast Facts: Shoulder Dislocations

Aug 22, 2019

J. Steve Smith, M.D.

  • The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that is inherently unstable. Think of a golf ball on a tee.
  • A dislocation of the ball (the humeral head) from the socket (the glenoid) accounts for nearly 50% of all major joint dislocations
  • The vast majority of separations are violent, traumatic injuries. However, some shoulders are naturally unstable and can dislocate with any serious force.
  • The ability of “the golf ball to remain on the tee” is due to ligaments, capsular tissue, cartilage (labrum), and muscles.
  • When the shoulder dislocates, there is often damage to the labral cartilage, the ligaments, the rotator cuff muscles or bones. It is rare for a shoulder dislocation to not damage the overall ball and socket joint.
  • Treatment of shoulder dislocations is catered to the individual patient and often depends on the extent of injury and damage to the shoulder.
  • Younger patients have a much higher rate of recurrent instability. Older patients have a much higher incidence of rotator cuff tears.
  • Initial treatment begins with a sling, ice, and pain control followed by gradual motion and physical therapy. Often, your surgeon will order a MRI to evaluate the damage to the soft tissues and bone.
  • Surgical treatment may be advised once all data is compiled and applied to each individual situation.
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Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic

4130 Dutchman's Lane,
Suite 300,Louisville 40207
(502) 897-1794

Northgate Medical Center

3605 Northgate Court,
Suite 207,New Albany 47150
(812) 920-0408

Louisville Orthopaedic Clinic
4130 Dutchman's Lane
Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40207

Northgate Medical Center
3605 Northgate Court
Suite 207
New Albany, IN 47150