Recovering From A Dislocated Shoulder

Treating a dislocated shoulder involves more than putting the bone back in the shoulder joint. We explain the factors that determine treatment outcome.

Those tough guys who fix their own dislocated shoulders may do fine in a Hollywood movie script, but in the real world, do-it-yourself remedies for shoulder injuries are not such a good idea. Data reported in a recent Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons showed that when people reset shoulder dislocations without medical help, the risk of future dislocation increases. A do-it-yourself attempt could also leave bone, muscle, nerve, and vascular damage untreated.

When an accident dislocates your shoulder, the displaced bone is only one aspect of your injury. Other damage may have been done to the shoulder joint, including the following:

  • Ligament or muscle injuries occur in 40 percent of shoulder dislocation patients.
  • Rotator cuff tears occur in one of every three shoulder dislocations.
  • Lingering shoulder instability follows a dislocation for six of every 10 younger patients.

A dislocated shoulder may be medically repaired with or without surgery, depending on the severity of the injury. Shoulder repair that does not require surgery is called a closed reduction. There are a number of closed reduction techniques that can be tailored to the specific injury. This nonsurgical repair can be used even when there is associated nerve and fracture injury. However, it is important to avoid multiple reduction attempts, which may further damage joint structures or risk necrosis (cellular bone death and collapse of the bone structures due to interruption in blood supply to the bone).

A number of factors determine how well your shoulder will recover after a dislocation, including the following:

  • The cause of the injury.
  • The age of the patient suffering the injury.
  • Any related fracture and muscle, ligament, vascular, or nerve injury.
  • The number of attempts before the shoulder is reset.

Males between the ages of 10 and 20 have the highest rate of shoulder dislocations, and are more likely than women to experience recurrent instability following this shoulder injury. Once a shoulder has been dislocated, there is an increased risk of a subsequent dislocation. This risk is highest in younger patients under the age of 20.

If you injure your shoulder in an action hero moment, it is best to seek orthopedic care promptly. Your physician will monitor your joint for possible nerve damage before and after your shoulder is reset, and direct a rehabilitation program tailored to your injury.

Summit Orthopedics offers comprehensive sports medicine expertise

From Olympians to pro athletes to kids in youth sports and those that just want to be more active—Summit Orthopedics delivers expert care by fellowship-trained sports medicine physicians. If you are recently injured or concerned about ongoing pain, Summit Orthopedics sports medicine specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely help you get back to being active.

Start your journey to stronger, healthier athletic condition. Find your sports medicine expert, request an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a sports medicine consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNPlymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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  • Robert Anderson MD

    Robert Anderson, M.D.

    “My own injuries and need for surgeries have helped me understand the patient experience. I’m a better listener and care provider as a result. I grew up and attended college in the area, so I know and understand the people of the Twin Cities.”

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  • Peter Daly, M.D.

    “I understand the concern of athletes to get back to their sport. And I work in combination with our therapists to get them fully active.”

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  • Peter Parten, M.D.

    “Like most people, our family is always on the go between work, kids, school, and sports. There is never a good time to rest or recover from an injury. My challenge is to enable patients of all ages to return to sports, work, and life as soon as possible.”

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  • Angela Voight MD

    Angela Voight, M.D.

    “My goal is to help people return to the activities they love as quickly and safely as possible. I want patients to feel like they are well cared for, that their concerns are heard, and that we work together to find the best treatment plan.”

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  • Kirk Scofield MD
  • Jeffrey Furmanek DO

    Jeffrey Furmanek, D.O.

    “My training has taught me to understand that the human body is a complex sum of its parts with an innate ability to heal. My role as an orthopedic surgeon can be an important part of this natural process.”

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  • James Gannon MD

    James Gannon, M.D.

    “Leading an active lifestyle provides an additional motivation to provide orthopedic care that will allow patients to return to the activities they enjoy.”

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  • Eric Khetia MD

    Eric Khetia, M.D.

    “My goal is to lead an active, healthy life and to allow my patients to do the same. Restoring them to pre-injury levels of functioning and allowing them to pursue the activities they enjoy inspires me.”

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  • Jerome Perra MD

    Jerome Perra, M.D.

    “My goal is always to return the patient to his or her highest level of function, and to individualize post-operative
    and rehabilitation expectations.”

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