Shoulder dislocations are some of the most painful injuries young athletes can suffer. Essentially the ball pops out of the socket. Often he or she must go to an emergency room to have a doctor put the shoulder back in place because of the tremendous pain and muscle spasms.
Wearing a sling after a shoulder dislocation
Once you have the shoulder reduced, or put back in proper place, you will probably wear a sling. Immobilizing the arm will decrease your pain and swelling and help you get more comfortable. There is no absolute amount of time that you should wear the sling, but you might be in it for 3 to 6 weeks.
Physical therapy for strength and motion
Physical therapy can help you regain strength and range of motion in your shoulder and arm. I think working with a physical therapist is critical to helping you return to your daily activities, let alone exercise or sports.
The high rate of repeated shoulder dislocations
One of the problems with a shoulder dislocation, though, is that they can often become recurrent events. For a young athlete under the age of 21 who dislocated his or her shoulder, there is a high likelihood it will happen again.
Surgical treatment of shoulder dislocations
Often the initial injury pulls the labrum off the glenoid (socket) and stretches out the capsule. Despite aggressive physical therapy, this structural damage can make repeated dislocations possible. In this situation, the orthopedic surgeon might discuss early arthroscopic surgery to stabilize the shoulder.
In this video, I discuss shoulder dislocations. I talk about initial treatments to decrease pain and swelling and improve your strength and motion. I then explain when you might consider having surgery.
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