Shoulder Dislocations: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Exercises
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, where the ball is the head of the humerus (arm bone) and the socket is the scapula (shoulder blade). A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the humerus slides out of the socket, most commonly in the anterior direction. This can lead to instability of the shoulder joint in this direction and cause your shoulder to feel loose and vulnerable to it occurring again.
What Causes a Shoulder Dislocation or Uniplanar Instability?
Shoulder dislocations and instability can occur with or without trauma. A forceful blow to the shoulder or fall onto the arm can cause the head of the humerus to dislocate from the socket. Deficiencies in the ligaments and capsule surrounding the shoulder can lead to hypermobility and instability of the shoulder, increasing the risk of a shoulder dislocation.
How can Physiotherapy and Chiropractic Help with a Shoulder Dislocation or Uniplanar Instability?
Following the reduction of a shoulder dislocation, there will be reduced range of motion, pain, and muscular weakness. There will also be laxity in the ligaments that holds the head of the humerus in the socket. A Physiotherapist and or Chiropractor can help you regain the range of motion, reduce pain and improve muscular strength. They will prescribe you exercises, perform hands-on manual therapy, apply pain-reducing modalities and guide you through the rehab process for optimal recovery.
What Should be Avoided after a Shoulder Dislocation or Uniplanar Instability?
Definitely do not do nothing or it could reoccur! After you dislocate your shoulder you will have shoulder instability until proper rehabilitation has occurred. During the initial stages of healing, a shoulder splint may be prescribed to help protect the shoulder when it is most vulnerable. Following this period, it is recommended to avoid going into painful ranges of motion or extreme ranges. It will be important to perform strengthening exercises and it will be a good 6-8 weeks before you will be able to challenge that shoulder.
How Long Does it take to Recover from a Shoulder Dislocation or Uniplanar Instability?
Generally, it can take up to 4-6 months to fully rehab and recover from shoulder instability and dislocation.
What are Safe Home Exercises I can do for a Shoulder Dislocation or Uniplanar Instability?
Below are some common early rehab exercises that will get you on the path to recovery. It is always best to consult with a Physiotherapist or Chiropractor when performing exercises after a dislocated shoulder.
Active assisted shoulder abduction
Using a stick, guide affected arm up sideways. Do not go into pain. Repeat 10x 3xday.
Active assisted shoulder flexion
Using a stick, guide affected arm forwards. Do not go into pain. Repeat 10x 3xday.
Active assisted shoulder external rotation
Using a stick, turn affected arm outwards while keeping elbow tucked in. Do not go into pain. Repeat 10x 3xday.
Resisted shoulder external rotation
Anchor a resistance band and hold it on affected side so band is across your body. Turn arm outwards while keeping elbow tucked in. Perform slowly and do not go into pain. Repeat 10x 3xday.
Resisted shoulder internal rotation
Anchor resistance band and hold it on affected side so band is away from body. Turn arm inwards while keeping elbow tucked in. Perform slowly and do not go into pain. Repeat 10x 3xday.
If you have dislocated your shoulder or have a shoulder that feels vulnerable, loose and it could slip out of its socket our experienced Physiotherapists and Chiropractors are here to help you along the rehab process. Contact us for more information.
Rebalance Sports Medicine is a multidisciplinary clinic in downtown Toronto offering physiotherapy, chiropractic, registered massage therapy, sports medicine, naturopathy, Pilates and more.