Dislocated shoulder

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A dislocated shoulder occurs if the upper arm moves out of the shoulder socket. The shoulder is prone to dislocate since it rests on a shallow socket. This makes the arm highly mobile and capable of moving in various directions. In most cases, a dislocated shoulder takes around 12-16 weeks to recuperate after the shoulder has been restored into place.

An individual can end up with a dislocated shoulder if he/she falls onto the arm heavily. Most cases occur while playing contact sports such as rugby. Among the elderly, the cause is often falls onto extended hands. In addition, dislocations are likely to occur among individuals who are highly flexible.

Do I have a dislocated shoulder?

Generally, an individual with a dislocated shoulder has the following signs:

Dislocated shoulder
Inability to move the arm due to the pain or discomfort.
  • Inability to move the arm due to the pain or discomfort
  • Affected shoulder appears square instead of round
  • Evident bulge or lump beneath the skin in front of the shoulder

What should I do?

An individual suspected with a dislocated shoulder must be taken to the nearest emergency department. Remember that the arm should not be popped back in place since it can damage the nerves, tissues and blood vessels adjacent the joint.

While waiting from the emergency team, the upper arm should not be moved if possible.

Position a soft object such as a pillow or folded blanket in the space between the arm and the flank of the chest for support. You can also create a simple splint to hold the lower arm transversely over the chest with the elbow flexed at a right angle.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on a dislocated shoulder is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, register for a first aid and CPR course with Victoria First Aid.

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