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Shoulder Dislocation Treatments


Do not try to force the bones back into place. Seek medical care immediately. Delaying treatment increases the chance of permanent damage to the shoulder joint.

Treatment includes:

  • Closed reduction—The doctor will move the head of the humerus back into the shoulder joint socket by applying traction to your arm. You will be given pain medication before this procedure begins.
  • Immobilization—After the reduction, you will need to wear a sling or a device called a shoulder immobilizer to keep the shoulder from moving. The shoulder is generally immobilized for about four weeks, and full recovery takes several months.
  • Rest—It is important to rest your shoulder and not put any strain on the joint area.
  • Ice and heat—Apply ice or a cold pack to your shoulder for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for the first two days. After the third day, use a heating pad for 20 minutes or less might help relief muscle soreness. This helps reduce pain and swelling as well. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin.
  • Rehabilitation exercises—After removal of the shoulder sling, begin exercises to restore strength and range of motion in your shoulder as recommended by your healthcare professional.
  • Pain medications—Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) help relieve pain.
  • Surgery—Surgery is rarely needed for a first time dislocation. It is often needed for a shoulder that dislocates repeatedly.

If you are diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, follow your doctor's instructions .

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Shoulder Dislocation Guide


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