Shoulder dislocation

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The glenohumeral (or “shoulder”) joint is the most unstable joint in the human body. The glenohumeral joint is classified as a ball and socket joint (ball within a socket) but, in reality the joint resembles more of a golf ball sitting on a tee where the tee is four times the size of the ball. This bony architecture allows a large degree of motion but not much stability, as such you can raise your arm overhead, but you aren’t able to move your hip in this way unless you are a contortionist in Cirque Du Soleil…

Owing to this high degree of instability the shoulder joint has been known to dislocate (“pop out”) of the socket when placed in the right position and enough force is applied.

Types of dislocation;

Anterior dislocation – The by far most common type of dislocation. This is where the ball comes out of the socket in a forward direction. This happens when the shoulder is in a position of adduction and external rotation, such as when throwing a ball (see picture).  

Posterior dislocation – This is the least common type of dislocation and this occurs when the shoulder is in a position of adduction and internal rotation (the end point of a punch in boxing). This commonly occurs when a boxer misses their target.

What to do if you have a dislocated a shoulder

If you have a suspected dislocated shoulder its time for a trip to your local A and E department. At the A and E department they will relocate the joint back in its socket and send you on your way. It is then important to visit your GP as soon as possible and request evaluation from a specialist. The chances of recurrent dislocation for people at the ages of 20-30 is very high (95% chance) and in this age group surgery is often recommended followed by a course of physiotherapy. However, if you are slightly older (30-50) you could get away with just a course of physiotherapy.

It is important to get a dislocated shoulder evaluated urgently as the position of the joint could cause nerve or blood vessel compression with long term consequences. If you need help or advise, our Physiotherapists and Sports Therapist’s at J&P are here to help get you back to health. Contact us to book an appointment, or find out more.

0151 345 6823 – Office Number [email protected] – Office email