Shoulder dislocation is a common injury in certain kinds of sports – especially contact sports. In fact, shoulder dislocations represent 50 percent of all major joint dislocations. The shoulder joint is called a ball-and-socket joint. When your shoulder gets dislocated, the bone of your upper arm pops-out of the cup-shaped socket, which is a part of the entire shoulder blade.

This shoulder joint is one of the most mobile joints in the human body. It can move in various directions. This also makes it more prone to dislocation. Shoulder dislocation can occur partially or completely. However, most dislocations take place in the front part of the shoulder. This is called an anterior dislocation.

Though it is one of the most common dislocations, it's not something that can occur very easily. In fact, it takes a lot of force to the shoulder to actually wrench the bone out of the socket.

Excessive rotation of the shoulder joint can also pop the ball of the upper arm bone right out of the shoulder socket.

In the case of a partial dislocation, the upper arm bone stays partially in & partially out of the shoulder; and this is another common injury.

The Common Causes of Shoulder Dislocation

A shoulder dislocation can be caused by several reasons:

Sports Injury

People who play hockey or football or any other sports that may involve falling, such as volleyball, gymnastics or skiing, are more prone to shoulder dislocation injuries.


Not all shoulder injuries are related to sports. Sometimes trauma due to a hard blow to the shoulder during a car accident can also lead to shoulder dislocation.


You can also dislocate your shoulder when you fall from a high place – like falling from a ladder, or even when you trip on a rug and take a fall.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder

Signs and Symptoms of a Dislocated Shoulder

There are many symptoms that accompany a dislocated shoulder.

  • An out-of-place or visibly deformed shoulder
  • Intense pain
  • Bruising or swelling
  • Inability to move the joint
  • Weakness, tingling or numbness near the injury (down your arm/ near your neck)
  • Spasms in the shoulder muscles when they get disrupted - this increases the intensity of the pain

Seeking Medical help for Shoulder Dislocation

Getting medical help for a shoulder dislocation

If you feel that your shoulder is dislocated, you must get medical help without delay. In the meantime, keep these points in mind:

  • Don't move that joint.
  • Keep the shoulder joint slung or splinted in its current position.
  • Don't attempt to move your shoulder.
  • Don't try to push it back into place, as this can lead to damage of the shoulder joint & its surrounding ligaments, muscles, blood vessels or nerves.
  • Make sure you ice the injured joint - this helps reduce the swelling and pain as it controls the internal bleeding and the build-up of fluids in & around the shoulder joint.

How to treat a Dislocated Shoulder

How to treat a Dislocated Shoulder

Closed Reduction

A doctor might use a few gentle manoeuvres to try and get your shoulder joint back into its proper position. Based on the amount of swelling and pain, you may need a sedative or relaxant or even a general anaesthetic before the doctor manipulates your shoulder bone back in place. Once this is done, the severe pain improves almost immediately.


If your shoulder joints & ligaments are weak and you have recurring shoulder dislocations (even after proper rehab and strengthening), you might require surgery. You might need surgery if there is damage to your blood vessels or nerves in some rare cases.


Your doctor may also get you to use a special sling/splint for a few days - up to 3 weeks - to prevent your shoulder from moving. The duration you wear the sling/splint will be dependent on the nature of the dislocation and how soon the sling/splint was applied post your dislocation.


Depending on the severity of pain, your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant or pain reliever to ensure you are comfortable while the shoulder heals.


Once your shoulder sling/splint has been removed, you will need to start a gradual rehab program. This will help restore flexibility, strength and range of motion to your shoulder joint.

Things to Remember

If the shoulder dislocation is simple, and there is no tissue or nerve damage, your shoulder joint will most likely heal within a few weeks. However, trying to resume your normal activities too soon after the dislocation can aggravate the injury putting you at a greater risk of future dislocation.

Even if you think the dislocation is not too severe, you must get medical help as soon as possible. It is highly recommended that you go through a proper rehabilitation routine at a reputed sports recovery centre. If you are in Australia, check out our sports chiropractic services. Our experts can help you recover from your shoulder injuries and lead a pain-free life.

Chiropractic Treatment for Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocation injuries can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and disrupt your normal life.  Sports chiropractic treatment is a proven way to treat this type of injury. Well-trained chiropractors can help you at every stage of the injury - right from the initial acute stage to the late repair stage when old scar tissues can cause considerable discomfort and pain.


Sports Chiropractic Treatment can assist with:

  • Reducing swelling around the injury,
  • Mobilising the joint where appropriate to facilitate healing and minimise scar tissue production.
  • Breaking down the scar tissue if already formed
  • Strengthening the damaged parts and rebuilding and stabilising the area.

If you are suffering from a shoulder dislocation injury and need help, feel free to reach out to us or book a chiropractic session here.