Shoulder Dislocations

A dislocated shoulder is an injury in which the shoulder actually “pops out of place”. The arm has to be manipulated to be put back into place. After the shoulder is in place, a lot of the initial pain improves immediately. In some cases, the diagnosis is not so obvious. The shoulder can slip part of the way without coming all the way out of the socket (“subluxation”).

Procedures

Additional Information

Questions and Answers

How do I know if I have a dislocated shoulder?

Unfortunately, it is usually obvious. There is an injury in which the shoulder actually “pops out of place”. The arm has to be manipulated to be put back into place. After the shoulder is in place, a lot of the initial pain improves immediately. In some cases, the diagnosis is not so obvious. The shoulder can slip part of the way without coming all the way out of the socket (“subluxation”).

What might have caused the dislocation?

Most people have a specific injury in which the arm is rotated above and away from the body. This position tears the ligaments that hold the ball and socket together. Once they are damaged, these ligaments rarely heal by themselves.

How long does the procedure last?

The operation to fix a dislocation generally takes between between 60 and 90 minutes in our hands.

Will I have to go under general anesthesia?

Not necessarily. The Nashville Knee & Shoulder Center is one of a select number of centers where dislocation surgery can be performed without general anesthesia. Instead, patients normally receive a nerve block combined with a “twilight” anesthesia to relax the patient. Avoiding general anesthesia markedly reduces the risks of surgery.

Will I have to stay in the hospital overnight?

No. Dislocation surgery is now performed on an outpatient basis.

What will the aftercare be?

You may remove your bandage 48 hours after surgery. After the initial bandage has been removed, you may shower. You will be in the sling for one month. Gentle movement of the shoulder will prevent scar tissue from forming while early healing occurs and, during the first month, you will do some simple motion exercises at home.

How long will I be in physical therapy?

You will attend physical therapy on a regular basis for 2-4 months after surgery. Therapy will begin one month after surgery.

How long will I be out of work?

You can expect to be out of work for at least 2 weeks after surgery to repair a dislocating shoulder. If your work requires heavy lifting, you may be unable to perform your usual job for several months.

How long until I can resume normal activities?

After a dislocation repair, most patients can resume normal activities (except for heavy lifting and sports) at about 6 weeks after surgery.

How long before I can throw or play sports?

Generally, 4-6 months are required before athletes can return to sports after a dislocation repair. Throwing is usually begun at 4-6 months, but it may several additional weeks before an athlete is allowed to attempt to throw at full speed.