Shoulder Dislocation

Table of Contents

    How Do I Know I've Dislocated My Shoulder?

    There are a few symptoms of shoulder dislocation that will help you figure out if that is what is causing you pain.

    • Intense Pain: When a dislocation happens, you will experience excruciating pain. You will generally feel it in the front or side, and it will come on suddenly and travel down the length of your arm.
    • Obvious Deformity: If it looks flattened or distorted in any way, you may have dislocated it.
    • Limited Range of Movement: If you find it incredibly painful or entirely impossible to move your arm normally, it can be a sign of dislocation.
    • Swelling and Bruising: It will quickly swell and may bruise if you’ve dislocated the joint.
    • Numbness or Tingling: In addition to the pain, you may also experience numbness or tingling if you have dislocated it.

    It's critical to keep in mind that dislocation is just one of a few different injuries that can create the symptoms listed above. Only a healthcare professional can make a conclusive diagnosis by using an in-personal physical examination as well imaging tests like an X-ray or MRI. It is crucial to see a doctor the very moment that you think that something may be wrong. Trying to treat a shoulder dislocation at home is extremely dangerous.

    How Is a Dislocated Shoulder Diagnosed?

    shoulder dislocation diagram

    Image Credit: Mayo Clinic

    When you arrive at the doctor’s office, your orthopaedic specialist will check for signs of tenderness, swelling, or disfigurement as well as any signs of nerve or blood vessel damage.

    After the physical examination, your doctor will typically opt to take an X-ray to look for a dislocation as well as to check for any potentially broken bones or other damage such as a rotator cuff injury or to diagnose hip pains.

    How Is a Dislocated Shoulder Treated?

    If you have a dislocation, it will be treated in a two-step process. These steps are incredible putting the shoulder back in its socket and managing the recovery.

    What Is It Like to Have Your Shoulder Put Back in Its Socket?

    Your doctor may refer to the process of putting the shoulder back in its socket as “reducing the dislocation” or a closed reduction. This is often done manually using a gentle physical manipulation and you may be given a sedative or pain reliever to make the process more comfortable. In more severe cases where there are damaged nerves or blood vessels, a surgical procedure may be required. Having surgery will decrease your odds of dislocation more than once and is sometimes done in the case of young athletes.

    What to Expect: Dislocation Recovery

    After having it put back in its socket via a closed reduction, you will likely need to wear a special splint or sling for a few weeks to prevent it from moving while the joint heats.

    During the dislocation recovery time, your doctor may recommend a medication like a pain reliever or a muscle relaxant to keep you comfortable as the pain and swelling naturally reduce.

    Dislocation Rehabilitation and Healing

    When it is time to remove the splint or sling, you can expect to start a rehabilitation programme to help you regain your range of motion, strength, and stability in your joint.

    In a case with no serious nerve or tissue damage, you can expect to heal from the injury within a matter of a few weeks. It is essential to ensure that you have a full range of movement and have regained your strength prior to going back to regular activities. It is important to work with a physical therapist. When you get official approval from your healthcare professional, you can confidently go back to your routine without the risk of dislocating it again.

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    Look for Shoulder Dislocation Treatment in Singapore

    If you are experiencing intense pain, you may be dealing with a dislocation in the shoulders. Dislocation can happen at any time to anyone, and it is always an emergency. When your shoulder is out of its joint, it is crucial to see a healthcare professional as soon as possible.

    There are a range of causes, however, so it is not always easy to self-diagnosis your condition.

    Looking to get shoulder dislocation treatment in Singapore? We are ready to help! The orthopaedic doctor here at Ray of Health will diagnose your issue and create a customised treatment plan to get you feeling like your own self again. We also offer other treatments for sports injuries like ankle pain treatment and meniscus tears.

    Why suffer in pain for another day? Reach out to us online, email us at, call +65 6235 8781, or chat with us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572.

    Is A Dislocated Shoulder an Emergency?

    Yes. If you have a dislocation, it is crucial to see a doctor as soon as possible.

    While you are waiting to receive medical care, there are a couple of at-home treatments that you can start with, including the following:

    • Don’t move: Use a splint or a sling to keep it in place. It is essential to not move and, importantly, not try to push it back into place. By moving it, you can cause damage to the surrounding muscles, ligaments, nerves, or blood vessels.
    • Put ice: To help with the pain and swelling, apply ice or a cold compress as soon as possible. If you are using ice, be sure to wrap it in a thin cloth to prevent frostbite. Apply it for at least 20 minutes at a time then take a break briefly.
    • Take pain medication: To help manage the pain and swelling, take pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

    Cold compress works well for sprains too. If you experience sudden pain and compressing the affected area doesn't work, perhaps it is time to see an orthopaedic surgeon for treatments to manage shoulder pain. Talk to a healthcare professional by contacting us by phone at +65 6235 8781 or on Whatsapp at +65 8028 4572.

    How Can I Prevent a Dislocated Shoulder?

    The majority of dislocated shoulders are caused by accidents and sports injuries. While it can be impossible to avoid unexpected accidents, there are some things that you can do to reduce your odds of dislocation during sports, including the following:

    • Wear protective gear anytime you are playing a contact sport
    • Develop a regular workout routine to build strength and flexibility in your joints and muscles. Always remember to do stretches before working out to prevent muscle cramps.
    • Be aware that having a dislocated joint increases your risk of having another dislocation so carefully follow the plan prescribed by your physical therapist.

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    About the Author

    Dr. James - Orthopaedic Surgeon in Singapore

    Dr James Tan C H

    Dr James Tan is a highly skilled surgeon who has more than 10 years of experience in sports surgery and exercise medicine. Apart from partnering the industry to pioneer advanced and proven treatment techniques, Dr Tan has treated athletes from the Singapore National Teams and professional footballers from the Singapore Premier League and the Young Lions. He is a member of the elite Asian Shoulder and Elbow Group and a founding member of the Singapore Shoulder and Elbow Surgery Society.