What is MMA?

Mixed martial arts, more commonly known as MMA, is a combat sport in which two competitors utilize a variety of martial arts techniques including punches, kicks, joint-locks, chokes, takedowns and throws to ultimately achieve dominance over their opponent. The most well-known organization associated with MMA is the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC). This organization holds more than 40 UFC fights each year, with the top-ranked fighters in the world competing on center stage in-front of millions of viewers.

As popularity for the sport grows, more athletes are beginning to participate in MMA. Due to the high physical demands of MMA, acute and chronic MMA shoulder injuries are common. Dr. Mark Getelman is available to treat MMA fighters in Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and the Greater Los Angeles area who sustain a dislocated shoulder in MMA.

Shoulder MMA Injuries

The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. This mobility provides the anatomy of the shoulder with a wide range of motion making it more susceptible to injury. The rotator cuff muscles, tendons, ligaments and the glenoid labrum helps keep the shoulder joint stable.

Mixed martial arts athletes place a large amount of stress on the shoulder. Specific moves that are commonly used by MMA athletes include:

  • Arm bars
  • Americana
  • Kimura

In addition to these moves, during MMA fights, athletes can experience high impact landing, forceful contraction and submission holds. All of these movements place high stress on the shoulder joint making the joint vulnerable to MMA injuries, specifically, an anterior shoulder dislocation.

Anterior Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward, or downward. The most common type of dislocated shoulder in MMA occurs when the shoulder slips forward, which is known as an anterior shoulder dislocation. These injuries account for 95-98% of all shoulder dislocations. The mechanism of injury involves the upper arm bone (humerus) moving forward and down out of the joint. In many cases, an anterior shoulder dislocation occurs when there is forced abduction, external rotation and extension stress across the joint.

Anterior Dislocated Shoulder in MMA

Anterior shoulder dislocations are most commonly seen in young adult males between the ages of 16 and 30 years who have sustained high-energy injuries to the shoulder. A dislocated shoulder in MMA can happen when an athlete lands on an outstretched arm from a fall, takes a direct blow to the shoulder, or when extreme rotation occurs in the arm. When an anterior shoulder dislocation occurs, the athlete will be unable to lift the arm or bring the arm across the front of the chest.

Anterior Shoulder Dislocation Treatment in MMA

If a dislocated shoulder in MMA occurs, prompt medical care must be sought in order to properly reduce the shoulder. Once the shoulder is reduced, or returned to the normal position, the joint will be assessed to determine the proper treatment recommendations. An anterior shoulder dislocation will be initially treated with non-surgical treatment options such as rest, ice, immobilization and physical therapy.

Once a shoulder dislocation in MMA occurs, the joint often becomes more unstable which can result in recurring dislocations. In a case with severe labral tearing or recurrent injury, surgery may be recommended to stabilize the joint, which would involve repairing the damaged labrum, capsule and ligaments. Recurrent dislocations often cause bony injury that also creates significant bone loss that may require a Latarjet reconstruction with transfer of the coracoid process to reconstruct the bone injury and restore overall stability.

Have you experienced an anterior shoulder dislocation during MMA? Do you need advice on how to recover? Do you want more information on preventing MMA knee injuries? Leave a comment below!

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Mark Getelman, MD | Shoulder & Knee Specialist | Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks CA
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