Shoulder Subluxation/Dislocation

Shoulder subluxations and dislocations are common among impact athletes and are typically due to a fall on an outstretched hand.  Repeat dislocations can lead to chronic instability, allowing the shoulder to dislocate with minor trauma (rolling the wrong way in bed, etc.)

– Instability of the shoulder joint.

– Weakness of the rotator cuff muscles.

– History of shoulder trauma.

– Pain in the shoulder.

– Feeling of weakness or inability to move the shoulder.

– Visible deformity in the front of the shoulder.

– Numbness/tingling in arm.

At Home Diagnostic Tests

– Instability (see video). 

– Anterior Apprehension (see video).

– Sulus Sign (a visable step off deformity in the shoulder).


At Home Care

– A full dislocation is a medical emergency and will need to be reduced by a medical professional.  An athletic trainer may do this on the sidelines of a game, or a physician will in the emergency department.


When to Seek Help

Contact your physical therapist immediately after the reduction of a dislocated shoulder.   Even if you “just” sublux your shoulder, you need to be evaluated by a physical therapist as repeat subluxations without treatment can lead to full dislocation.

Inspired Athletx Treatment

After a subluxation or dislocation, manual therapy techniques will reduce pain and improve mobility, allowing for progression into rotator cuff strengthening, shoulder stability training, and sport specific exercise.