Shoulder dislocation is a painful injury that occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the shoulder joint, either partially or completely, causing potential muscle, ligament or tendon injuries, blood vessel and nerve damage, and instability in the shoulder.

Shoulder dislocation can be caused by a fall onto an outstretched arm or impact to the shoulder in a car accident. The shoulder can dislocate in many directions, but the majority of dislocations occur when the upper arm bone slips forward. This is called anterior shoulder dislocation and is more likely to happen during throwing or racquet sports.

Dislocation of the shoulder causes pain that ranges from extreme discomfort to severe pain. It may also cause swelling, numbness, bruising and weakness.

In most cases, a shoulder specialist at Lancaster Orthopedic Group can place the dislocated humerus bone back into the shoulder joint in a process called closed reduction. The shoulder is then immobilized in a sling until the tissues have healed, and you may be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, to ease pain and inflammation. The shoulder will usually need rehabilitation to regain mobility and strength.

Individuals who experience recurring shoulder dislocations, or have extensive damage to muscles, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels, may need surgery to stabilize the joint or tighten very lax ligaments and muscles and prevent the shoulder from dislocating again. If shoulder surgery is not an option, there are a wide range of other treatments available.