Your shoulder is the most unstable of any of the joints in your body. The upper arm bone (humerus) is held into place within its shallow socket by a group of muscles and ligaments. Because the shoulder joint is stabilised by soft tissue and not by bone the range of motion of the shoulder is very wide. It is the most flexible of any joint in the body. However this also means that dislocation of the shoulder and shoulder instability is very common.
The shoulder may be dislocated when the humerus is pushed forward; it may be dislocated backwards, or downwards. Over 95% of shoulder dislocations that occur are forward dislocations or “anterior” dislocations. The shoulder may become dislocated either from injury or from chronic overuse. The more unstable the shoulder, the more likely it is to dislocate. Those who have experienced a shoulder dislocation are more likely to experience further dislocations and continued shoulder instability.
The symptoms of shoulder instability and dislocation include:
- pain in your shoulder
- a sensation that your shoulder feels ‘loose’
- an inability to move your arm
- numbness down the affected arm
- visual displacement of the joint
Often a ‘popping’ sensation is felt when you dislocate your shoulder. This can be very painful and will require medical attention.
Immediate treatment for a dislocated shoulder includes moving and manipulating the joint back into place, and this should only be performed by an experienced medical doctor. Strong pain relief is often given as the pain experienced is usually very intense, anti-inflammatory drugs will help to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Sometimes the arm may benefit from support, by using a sling, and physical therapy in the weeks following a dislocation can help to strengthen the joint.
Sometimes surgery may be required in the months following the dislocation in order to repair or remove any damaged tissue that is causing problems.
If a previous dislocation has caused shoulder instability, and regular physical therapy is not a suitable option, Mr. Durrant may recommend surgery in order to stabilise the joint. Mr. Durrant will perform a shoulder arthroscopy in order to repair and ‘tighten’ the ligaments along the front of the shoulder joint (this is the preferred method). A small thin camera is inserted into the shoulder joint along with narrow instruments, and the repair is performed all internally. In over 90% of cases this provides sufficient stability so the shoulder no longer dislocates.
For serious shoulder instability, an open surgical operation may be required for Mr Durrant to replace lost bone around the shoulder socket.
Please contact Mr. Adam Durrants office for more information on shoulder dislocation and shoulder instability or for additional resources on other shoulder related injuries.