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3 Types of Shoulder Dislocation and How They Are Treated

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the top of your humerus bone moves out of its socket, or shoulder joint. It is accompanied by severe pain, lack of motion, and a bump either in front or in the back of your shoulder. Almost all shoulder dislocations are related to trauma, and most seem to occur in young adults.

Anterior Dislocation

With an anterior dislocation, the arm is twisted and forced forward out of the socket. Being the most common type of shoulder dislocation, this injury accounts for 95% of all shoulder dislocations. 

types of shoulder dislocation illustration

Anterior dislocations mainly affect young people who participate in sports activities and older adults who fall on an outstretched arm.

Posterior Dislocation

In this case, the arm is displaced toward the back of the body. This is mainly caused by a seizure or an electrical shock. Posterior dislocations can also occur with a fall or a blow to the front of the shoulder.

Inferior Dislocation

In this type of rare shoulder dislocation, the humerus bone moves downward and out of its socket. It can occur from a trauma when an arm is pushed down with severe force. 

How Is a Shoulder Dislocation Treated?

Once Dr. Fuchs diagnoses a shoulder dislocation, medications are given to ease the pain and relax the muscles. A treatment known as closed reduction is then performed, which carefully guides the head of the humerus back into its socket. Once the humerus is back in place, the pain caused by the dislocation stops almost immediately. 

The next part of the treatment includes the following steps:

  • Most patients rest in a sling for 1 to 4 weeks.
  • Ice may be applied 3 or 4 times a day to reduce swelling.
  • Physical therapy is an important addition to the treatment process so that patients can regain their normal strength and range of motion.

If the joint continues to be unstable or is loose, shoulder surgery may be required.

Most patients regain full use and function after a shoulder dislocation, but once someone experiences a dislocation, they are at a higher risk for another. Contact Dr. Fuchs if you have severe pain in your shoulder, especially after a sports injury. 

As always, if you have any further questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please call (425) 823-4000 or request an appointment online today!