Alexander E Weber, MD
Orthopaedic surgeon & sports Medicine specialist

Shoulder Dislocations: Causes, Types, Treatment, and Prevention

Sep 07, 2023
Shoulder dislocations are a common orthopedic injury that can cause significant pain and discomfort. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, types, treatment options, and preventive measures for shoulder dislocations.

Causes of Shoulder Dislocations:

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of the shoulder socket (glenoid). Common causes include traumatic events like falls, sports injuries, or accidents. It can also happen due to repetitive stress on the shoulder joint, especially in activities that involve overhead motion.

Types of Shoulder Dislocations:

  • Anterior Dislocation: This is the most common type, where the humerus dislocates forward, often resulting from an outward force on the arm. 
  • Posterior Dislocation: This occurs when the humerus dislocates backward, typically due to a force pushing the arm inward.
  • Inferior Dislocation: In rare cases, the humerus dislocates downward, usually from a severe injury or electric shock.


  •  Intense pain in the shoulder. 
  • Swelling, bruising, and visible deformity.
  • Limited range of motion.
  • Numbness or tingling in the arm.

Treatment Options:

  • Reduction: A healthcare professional will gently maneuver the displaced bone back into the socket, a procedure called reduction. This should be done by a trained medical practitioner to prevent further damage. 
  • Immobilization: After reduction, the shoulder is typically immobilized with a sling or brace for several weeks to allow the ligaments and tissues to heal.
  • Physical Therapy: Once the initial healing has occurred, physical therapy is often recommended to regain strength, stability, and flexibility in the shoulder joint.
  • Surgery: In cases of recurrent dislocations or severe damage to the shoulder structures, surgical intervention may be necessary to stabilize the joint.

Preventive Measures:

  • Strength Training: Building up the muscles around the shoulder can provide better joint support and reduce the risk of dislocation. 
  • Proper Technique: Athletes should ensure they use proper technique and form in their sports or activities to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Protective Gear: Wearing protective gear like shoulder pads or braces can help reduce the severity of injuries during contact sports or high-risk activities.
  • Fall Prevention: Take precautions to prevent falls, especially in icy or slippery conditions.

In conclusion, shoulder dislocations are painful and often traumatic injuries. Timely and appropriate treatment is crucial for a full recovery. Additionally, individuals can reduce their risk of shoulder dislocations through strength training, proper technique, and taking precautions in high-risk situations. If you suspect a shoulder dislocation, seek medical attention promptly for diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Weber and his team treat over 200 Los Angeles athletes and weekend warriors with shoulder dislocations and instability injuries each year. We provide personalized treatment for all shoulder injuries, including labral tears, from professional athletes to high school recreational players. If you are a patient with a shoulder injury in Los Angeles, please reach out. We can see you within 24 hours.