Shoulder Dislocation / Instability Specialist

Austin Shoulder Institute

Orthopedic Surgeons & Shoulder Specialists located in North Austin, Austin, TX & Austin, Cedar Park, TX

At Austin Shoulder Institute, Dr. Graham and Dr. Szerlip provide state-of-the-art care and treatment for shoulder dislocation and instability, helping patients from throughout the North Austin, TX, area relieve pain and other symptoms while reducing the risk of future and recurrent dislocations.

Shoulder Dislocation / Instability

What is a shoulder dislocation?

The shoulder joint is a very complicated joint capable of a wide range of motion, depending on bones, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues for proper function. A dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone slips out of the cup-shaped socket (called the glenoid), either completely or partially. Dislocation can cause considerable pain in the shoulder, as well as unsteadiness in the joint.

What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

Symptoms can vary based on whether the dislocation is full or partial, and can include:

  • pain

  • numbness or tingling

  • swelling or bruising

  • weakness

  • decreased range of motion

Dislocated shoulders typically have an unnatural appearance like a lump at the joint or the arm may hang awkwardly. The joint can become dislocated forward, backward or downward.

How is a dislocation diagnosed?

Often, dislocation can be diagnosed from a physical examination of the joint; sometimes, an x-ray may be ordered to confirm diagnosis and guide treatment.

What treatment is available for a shoulder dislocation?

The first step in treating a dislocation is to place the upper arm bone back into the glenoid, a procedure called reduction. Often, this can be completed without surgery, but in some cases, a surgical approach may be needed to ensure the joint is properly positioned or to treat a recurrent dislocation to help prevent dislocation from occurring in the future. Once reduction is complete, the joint may be immobilized in a sling or brace to help keep the joint in place while it heals. Ice can be applied to the area several times a day to help reduce inflammation and discomfort. Once initial healing has occurred, rehabilitation of the joint will likely be prescribed to help restore normal movement and strengthen the joint to help prevent future dislocation. In some cases, surgery may be required to repair significant damage.

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