A shoulder dislocation is a common injury in teenagers and young adults. It’s much less common in patients in their thirties, forties and fifties. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I discuss the challenges for an older adult who suffers a shoulder dislocation and when you could actually need surgery.

Vincent asks:
I’m 53. I dislocated my shoulder. It has been 2 weeks. I made a strange movement, and it slightly popped out, but I have no pain. Will I need surgery, or will it just take time?

When a young athlete suffers a dislocated shoulder, he or she often tears the labrum (cartilage bumper, so to speak) off the glenoid (or socket). That younger patient often needs surgery to repair the labrum and tighten the capsule to restore stability to the shoulder.

If you are older and suffer a shoulder dislocation, it is common to tear your rotator cuff instead. The rotator cuff tear in this scenario occasionally involves more than one tendon. The tear can retract several centimeters off the bone. Orthopedic surgeons often perform surgery to repair this rotator cuff tear in the days and weeks after the injury.

The surgeon grabs the torn rotator cuff tendon from a shoulder dislocation.

In this video, I explain when an older patient should see a doctor for a shoulder dislocation, what tests can reveal the extent of injury and when you might need surgery.

Also read:
When should you get an MRI for a shoulder dislocation?
Rotator cuff tear: Signs and symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of this shoulder injury

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