The shoulder joints are the most commonly dislocated joints in the body.
The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body and allows the arm to move in many directions. This ability to move makes the joint inherently unstable and also makes the shoulder the most often dislocated joint in the body.
Dislocations of the shoulder occur when the head of the humerus is forcibly removed from its socket in the glenoid fossa.
Approximately 25% of shoulder dislocations have associated fractures.
Closed reduction, without the need for surgery, is the most common initial treatment. Medications may be required for sedation to help relax the muscles surrounding the shoulder and facilitate the reduction.
Immobilization with a sling is important to decrease the risk of a repeat dislocation. First dislocations are immobilized in an external rotation position. Recurrent dislocations may be immobilized in a regular sling.
Early follow-up is important to decide when to begin allowing shoulder motion.
Total time of immobilization varies, and balance needs to exist between shoulder stability and loss of motion and function from prolonged immobilization.
Recurrent shoulder dislocations may be an indication for surgery to repair and tighten torn tissues.