A dislocated shoulder is a very common injury that can occur during contact sports such as football, rugby or judo. Pain accompanies the event and the person has a feeling of the shoulder ‘popping out’. The shoulder joint has a distinctive appearance after dislocation, with the humeral head (top of the bone of the arm) protruding forwards with a hollow space above it. The shoulder will have to be relocated to prevent further complications. The sooner after injury that the shoulder dislocation is reduced, the easier it will be to do. An x-ray should always be performed once the dislocation has been reduced to rule out any associated fractures.
Resting the shoulder in a brace is recommended and according to the extent of the injury, surgery may be indicated.
Physiotherapy focuses on shoulder strengthening exercises and resuming full function once the pain is under control. A return to sport can be expected between 6-12 weeks depending on the severity of the injury.