Dislocated Shoulder

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Your shoulder is your most mobile joint, and while that gives you an enormous range of motion, it also increases your risk of dislocation. At Austin Shoulder Institute, in Austin, Texas, Robert Graham, MD, provides state-of-the-art care and treatment for dislocated shoulders, relieving pain and instability while reducing your risk of future and recurring dislocations.

Illustration of shoulder pain caused by shoulder dislocation at ASIWhat is a shoulder dislocation?

The shoulder joint is capable of a wide range of motion, depending on a complex group of bones, ligaments, tendons and other soft tissues for proper function. A dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) wholly or partially slips out of the cup-shaped socket (glenoid). Dislocation can cause considerable pain in the shoulder, as well as instability in the joint.

What are the symptoms of a shoulder dislocation?

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder vary based on whether the dislocation is full or partial, as well as the direction of the dislocation. For example, you may experience:


  • Pain
  • Numbness or tingling in your arms
  • Swelling or bruising
  • Weakness
  • Decreased range of motion


Dislocated shoulders typically have an abnormal appearance like a lump at the joint or your arm may hang awkwardly.

How is a dislocation diagnosed?

Dr. Graham can diagnose dislocated shoulders with a physical examination of the joint. He may order a diagnostic imaging service such as an x-ray to confirm diagnosis and guide treatment.

What treatment is available for shoulder dislocation?

The first step in treating a dislocation is to place the upper arm bone back into the glenoid, a procedure called reduction. Often, Dr. Graham can complete this procedure without surgery. However, in some cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to ensure your joint is positioned correctly or help prevent future dislocations.  In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair significant damage.


Once reduction is complete, your doctor may immobilize your shoulder and arm in a sling or brace to help keep the joint in place while it heals. You can apply ice to your shoulder several times a day to reduce inflammation and discomfort.


After your shoulder begins to heal, your doctor prescribes rehabilitation of the joint to help restore normal movement and strengthen the joint. Physical therapy both facilitates your recovery and helps reduce your risk of future shoulder dislocations.

If you have shoulder pain and are concerned about a dislocation, call Austin Shoulder Institute or make an appointment online today.