The shoulder is the most versatile joint in the body but can become dislocated with force or trauma. Dislocation is often caused when the ball of the humerus rolls out of place. It can also occur when landing to break a fall or taking a direct blow to the shoulder.

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What are the signs and symptoms of a dislocated shoulder?

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Bruising or redness
  • Difficulty moving injured area
  • Numbness or weakness at the injury site

What causes shoulder dislocation?

  • Trauma from sports injuries, with the most common from:
    • Contact sports (e.g., football, hockey, martial arts)
    • Sports that involve falling (e.g., gymnastics, cheerleading, volleyball)
  • Accidents, including traffic/car accidents
  • Falling on a shoulder or outreached arm
  • Muscle contractions caused by seizures or shock

How is a dislocated shoulder diagnosed?

  • Physical exam
  • Imaging if necessary:
    • X-rays
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

How is a dislocated shoulder treated?

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s injury. There are several non-surgical options to treat a dislocated shoulder:

  • I.C.E. – Rest, ice, compression and elevation
  • Activity modification or restriction
  • Pain-relief medication (e.g., acetaminophen)
  • Splint, cast or sling
  • Physical therapy

Surgery is only necessary in more severe cases. Doctors at Connecticut Children’s can determine the right plan to treat your child’s dislocated shoulder.