A subluxation occurs when the bone partially separates from the joint. A dislocation occurs when the bone entirely separates from the joint and needs an outside force to be put back in place. Shoulder dislocations are common among football players and other impact athletes.
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.