• Eric Lau

Shoulder Dislocation: Early Signs, Treatments, and Exercises

A dislocated shoulder is a potentially serious injury in which your upper arm bone pops out of the cup-shaped part of your shoulder blade. One of the most common reasons people get dislocated shoulders are due to trauma from direct force along the back of the shoulder. Shoulders are one of the most mobile joints in the body which makes it more vulnerable to shoulder dislocations.


Man holding sore shoulder

What is it?


The shoulder joint is normally thought of as a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the round part of the bone that fits into a cup-shaped socket of the shoulder blade. When this upper arm bone is pulled or twisted with heavy force away from the socket, this typically results in a shoulder dislocation. This extreme force literally pops the top of the humerus right out of its socket. The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body making it more susceptible to dislocations.

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Swelling, bruising and tenderness

  • Difficulty moving the shoulder

  • Inability to bear weight on the arm

  • Numbness or tingling in the neck or arm

  • Muscle spasms

How is it treated?

Your doctor will ask you to rest your shoulder in a sling for about 2-4 weeks. During a shoulder dislocation the ligaments and tendons in your shoulder are overstretched. Resting in a sling for a number of weeks will allow your ligaments and tendons to recover.


After this period of rest it is time to begin gently stretching and strengthen your shoulder. Your physiotherapist will massage the muscles around your neck and shoulder. Your shoulder will feel quite tight and your shoulder flexibility will be limited after this period of time in the sling. Your physiotherapist will gently stretch your shoulder to help you regain flexibility.


Common home exercises


Wall crawls:

Place your hand on a wall. Walk your fingers up the wall reaching up as high as you feel comfortable. Perform 5-10 reps x 3 sets.


Assist overhead reach:

Clasp your hands together. Use your healthy arm to lift your injured arm up as high as you feel comfortable. Perform 5-10 reps x 3 sets.


Man standing up and clasping both hands together and reaching up overhead

Shoulder flexion with band:

Holding onto a band or a water bottle. Keep your elbow straight and lift your arm up in front of you. Lift your arm up to shoulder height and lower your arm down slowly. Perform 8-15 reps x 3 sets.


Shoulder scaption with band:

Use a band or a water bottle for resistance for this exercise. Keep your elbow straight and lift your arm up at a 45 degree angle in front of you. Lift your arm up to shoulder height and lower your arm down slowly. Perform 8-15 reps x 3 sets.

Man performing a shoulder exercise using a resistance band

140 views0 comments