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What to Do When Your Shoulder Gets Dislocated

What to Do When Your Shoulder Gets Dislocated

Shoulder dislocations are one of the least common shoulder injuries, affecting fewer than .05% of Americans each year. This injury is far more common, however, in college and high school athletes and people who engage in high-contact sports.

Dislocated shoulders are generally easy to diagnose as the joint is visibly out of place or appears deformed. Other signs of a dislocated shoulder include:

At OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare in San Diego, Encinitas, and Temecula, California, our providers know mishandling a shoulder dislocation can cause more problems than the initial injury. 

That’s why our board-certified surgeons and sports medicine specialists, David Chao, MD, and Matthew Gargulinski, DO, want you to know what steps to take while you wait for medical attention if you or someone you know sustains a shoulder dislocation.

1. Don’t move the joint

Never try to replace the dislocated bone or pop the joint back in place without medical training!

Hollywood may make repositioning a dislocated shoulder look easy, but in reality you can do more harm than good by moving the joint. To avoid causing significant damage to the blood vessels, nerves, ligaments, cartilage, muscles, and bones in and near the shoulder, keep the shoulder immobile by using a splint or sling if possible.

2. Ice the shoulder

Shoulder dislocations are painful and can trigger significant swelling. To ease the pain and keep swelling to a minimum, carefully ice the affected shoulder while you wait for medical attention. Dislocated shoulders can also cause internal bleeding, and applying ice helps minimize fluids around the joint, making it easier for your provider to administer treatment. 

3. Seek immediate medical attention

Don’t wait to seek medical help for a dislocated shoulder. Call OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare, or head to your local emergency room or other urgent care center right away. 

To treat a dislocated shoulder, your provider performs a closed reduction, which involves pushing the upper arm bone back into your shoulder socket. Your provider can also give you a sedative or pain medication to ease your discomfort.

Even after your joint is in place, you may require additional therapies. Your OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare provider creates a personalized shoulder treatment plan based on your unique needs, which may include:

Learn more about treating dislocated shoulders and other shoulder injuries by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone at the OasisMD Lifestyle Healthcare office of your choice. 

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