The shoulder is made up of a ball and socket joint – the ball-shaped head of the upper arm bone (humerus) articulates in the socket of the glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade (scapula). Despite being the most flexible joint in the body, the bones of the shoulder are highly prone to dislocation. Repeated overhead sports and workplace activities may lead to sliding of the humerus out of the glenoid causing a dislocation.
The dislocation can be partial or complete with symptoms of pain, swelling, weakness, bruising, numbness and shoulder joint instability. Sometimes the dislocation can tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder, and cause nerve damage. When you present to the clinic with a dislocated shoulder joint, your doctor will examine your shoulder and order an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
The condition is treated by a process called closed reduction, which involves placing the ball of the upper arm back into the socket. Following this, the shoulder will be immobilized with a sling for several weeks. Ice may be applied over the area 3 to 4 times a day to relieve symptoms of pain and swelling. Rehabilitation exercises may be started to restore range of motion, once the pain and swelling decrease.