Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder joint (or the glenohumeral joint) is a multiaxial  ball-and-socket synovial joint formed by the articular surfaces of the glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade) and the head of the humerus (upper arm bone).

The nature of the shoulder allows it to move through a great range of motion, making the shoulder joint one of the most mobile joints in the human body. This tremendous range of motion makes the shoulder joint very unstable and more prone to injury and dislocation than other joints.

Glenohumeral subluxation is when there is an excessive translation of the humeral head without separation of the joint surfaces (the feeling that your shoulder is just slightly slipping out) and glenohumeral joint dislocation is when the head of the humerus separates or dislocate from its socket in the shoulder blade.

There are 3 main types of dislocations: Anterior (humerus displaced forward), Posterior (humerus displaced backward) and Inferior (humerus head displaced downwards).



  • A visibly deformed or out-of-place shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Intense pain
  • Inability to move the joint
  • Dislocation may also cause numbness, tingling and weakness in your neck or down the injured arm


  • Sports Injuries
  • Trauma e.g. motor accident
  • Falls
  • Overuse
  • Instability


Initial management of a shoulder dislocation requires immediate immobilization, immediate reduction by a physician and the use of cold packs to control haemorrhage (internal bleeding). Muscle reconditioning should be initiated as soon as possible to strengthen the shoulder stabilizing muscles to support and stabilize the shoulder joint and range of motion exercises to regain full range of motion at the shoulder. This can reduce chances of dislocation in future or prevent it all together. Without rehabilitation, the shoulder joint will remain very unstable, especially with torn ligaments around the joint and will be prone to get injured again.


Diseases & Conditions: Dislocated Shoulder. Mayo Foundation For Medical Education & Research. Accessed November 2, 2016.

FLOYD, R. T. (2009). Manual of Structural Kinesiology (17th Ed.).New York: McGraw Hill.

PRENTICE, W. E. (2011). Principles of Athletic Training: A Competency-Based Approach (14th Ed.). New York: McGraw Hill.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *