Cause, impact and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder
A dislocated shoulder describes an injury where the top of your arm pops out of your shoulder socket. This kind of injury is usually caused by a fall or collision, so the extreme force that causes the injury can cause the supporting tissues in your shoulder joint to tear. Our shoulder is designed to have a wide range of movement, but unfortunately this makes it vulnerable to dislocation.
The most common causes of a dislocated shoulder are:
• a fall – for example, an elderly person may suffer a dislocated shoulder following a fall, particularly if they put their hands and arms out to break their fall
• a sporting injury – suffering a dislocated shoulder is relatively common in contact sports such as rugby
• a collision – in an accident where a victim has tried to break their fall, such as a motorbike or bicycle accident
So what impact does a dislocated shoulder have?
A dislocated shoulder can be very painful and take between 3 and 4 months to heal. So it is a long term injury and depending on your job, can make it difficult to work whist you recover. This can lead to financial loss in terms of lost wages or an additional need for childcare. It can also mean that you suffer not only pain, but distress, worrying about the potential length and success of your recovery. Recovery is often not ‘complete’ as the supporting tissues in your shoulder may not mend completely. This can mean that whilst your life gets back to normal, your shoulder is susceptible to a further dislocation in the future.
What symptoms are there? How do you know if your shoulder is dislocated?
Generally, a dislocated shoulder is fairly easy to spot. In almost all cases, the arm dislocates forwards, moving in front of the shoulder socket. If you have a dislocated shoulder, you will feel extreme pain and will not be able to move your arm normally. Your shoulder may look square rather than round and you may see a lump in the front of the shoulder joint.
What should you do if you have dislocated your shoulder?
You should seek immediate medical attention if your shoulder is dislocated. Your local Accident and Emergency department can make sure a doctor gently repositions your shoulder and checks for nerve damage. Even if you have repositioned your shoulder yourself, you should see your GP to check for damage.
If your dislocated shoulder was caused by an accident due to someone else’s actions or negligence, such as a trip or fall, a collision or an assault, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation.
You can find out whether you are eligible to make a claim by taking the unique, 30 second online test at Accident Advice Helplines website. Alternatively, there is a helpline that you can call free of charge on 0800 689 0500 – or from your mobile on 0333 500 0993 – to discuss your accident. The helpline is manned by friendly and professional staff and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.