How a Dislocated Shoulder or Shoulder Subluxation Causes Shoulder Instability
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body, allowing a wide range of motion. The shoulder’s range of motion can become restricted when a shoulder dislocation, also called shoulder subluxation, occurs from a sports injury, traumatic blow to the joint or from continuous overhead movements. A dislocated shoulder is marked by the displacement of the ball (humerus head) and the socket (glenoid). This injury often causes recurrent shoulder instability, a condition that occurs when the soft tissues surrounding the shoulder do not function properly and fail to hold the ball and socket in place. Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder specialist located in the Van Nuys, Westlake Village, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles,, California area, strives to return patients to the activities they love after suffering a dislocated shoulder.
In order for a shoulder dislocation to occur, the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons and joint capsule) around the shoulder joint must become damaged. Typically, the labrum tears and allows the ball to dislocate. A dislocated shoulder is quite common in athletes involved in contact sports, such as football and hockey. Athletes involved in baseball and tennis are also prone to this shoulder injury from the constant repetitive overhead arm movements involved in the sports.
If the labrum tears and does not heal, the shoulder may develop recurrent shoulder dislocations and/or pain during certain activities. Older patients who experience a dislocated shoulder are at a lower risk of developing ongoing shoulder instability compared to younger patients.
Dislocated Shoulder / Shoulder Subluxation Symptoms
Common dislocated shoulder symptoms include significant shoulder and arm pain, shoulder weakness, arm numbness and a limited range of motion. Patients may also experience difficulty or the inability to move the arm, a “popping” sensation or a visual deformity of the shoulder joint from the ball and socket becoming separated.
Dislocated Shoulder / Shoulder Subluxation Diagnosis
Prompt medical care should be sought if a patient experiences a dislocated shoulder. Initial medical care is focused on reduction, or returning the shoulder to its normal position. The shoulder may return to its normal position without medical care in certain patients. When the shoulder does not return to its normal position on its own, the joint will need to be manually reduced by a physician. This is done by manipulating the shoulder and placing the ball back into the socket.