Dislocated Shoulder: Symptoms & Treatment

Dislocated shoulders are common injuries following a direct trauma to the arm. Recovery period is lengthy and is usually in the region of 3 to 4 months before healing is complete. When someone uses the word “dislocated shoulder”, it simply means that the shoulder bone had popped out of the socket. Why are shoulders so prone to dislocation? This is simply because of the wide range of motion the shoulder provides. To cater to the mobility, the shoulder joint is designed like a ball and socket joint. The arm bone is the ball and is inserted into a socket. However, this is rather unstable and the arm can pop out easily. Most shoulder dislocation is at the lower front, as it is shallower. Let’s discuss about some of the symptoms and treatments for a shoulder dislocation.


The symptoms are fairly straightforward. The first thing is the onset of severe pain at the shoulder joint followed by the inability to use it at all. It will be nearly impossible to lift up your arm. The shoulder will also be soft as the bone is now displaced towards the front. The shoulder may also be slightly deformed and bits of the bone may be poking out of the skin.


Immediate medical response is required for a speedy recovery. The first step that doctors will do is to try and pop the shoulder bone back into the socket. This is due to the body’s response to injury and it will cause the area to be swollen and inflamed.  Therefore, the faster the joint is reconnected, the better it is. The next objective is then to reduce the swelling. Ice is a cheap and effective method to bring down the swelling and soothe the affected muscles and tissues. It is advisable to ice the area every few hours for the next 3 days. In order to prevent excessive movement that may hinder the recovery, an immobility arm sling should be used. This will provide support to the shoulder and reduce the stress. If the pain is too unbearable, anti-inflammatory painkillers should be consumed. The medication will help to bring down swelling effectively and numb the pain.

A dislocated shoulder is not a laughing matter and medical treatment should be sought immediately. Due to the wide use of the shoulder, an injury there will cause excessive disturbance to our daily lives. In order to prevent this, defensive techniques and proper protective gears should be worn during certain activities that are extreme.

Rehabilitation Exercises for Shoulder Injury

Shoulder rehabilitation exercises are extremely important for the post-recovery following a shoulder injury or surgery. Although it may look simple and easy to do, it should only be performed under the supervision of a physical therapist or a doctor to ensure that you are working the right muscles. This is especially so for surgery patients as you do not want to further aggravate the wound. In this article, we will look at some useful rehabilitation exercises for shoulder injuries.

Shoulder rehab exercises are classified into 3 main categories: early stage, mid stage and final stage. In the early stage, the main purpose is to allow the injured tissues, tendons and muscles to heal, prevent scarring and regain your full range of motion. In the mid stage, the regaining of strength is the main purpose to help better support the injured shoulder. Lastly in the final stage, the full strength you had before the injury should be achieved.

Rotator cuff stretching

The rotator is a group of muscles and tendons that act together to stabilise the shoulder joint. Due to the amount of work and repeated stresses they go through, they are the most common cause of shoulder pain and injury. There are many good exercises that aims to strengthen only the rotator cuff but these require extreme care when performing it.

Side external rotation

The side external rotation is a simple exercise that you can perform in the comfort of your own home. Lie on your side with a pillow supporting your head. Place one arm on your stomach with a dumbbell and the other under the pillow. Slowly lift up the dumbbell to chest level and return. Repeat this exercise for 15 times for a total of 3 sets.

Horizontal abduction

In this exercise, lie on your stomach on an elevated platform such as a bed or a table. Leave one arm hanging over the side holding the dumbbell. Slowly lift up the arm until it is parallel with the table and return. Repeat this exercise for 15 times for a total of 3 sets.

Row with external rotation

Begin in the same position as the side external rotation. Instead of lifting your arm parallel to the table, lift it forward this time. You should perform a rowing motion until the elbow is parallel with your shoulder. Slowly rotate your forearm back to the initial position. Repeat this exercise for 15 times for a total of 3 sets.

5 Simple Rehab Exercises for Rotator Cuff Injury

Our rotator cuff is made up of muscles, tendons and ligaments which hold the shoulder blade firmly with the humerus. Our shoulder joint is one of the most heavily used joint in the whole body and this place the shoulder at a high injury risk. Rotator cuff injuries can commonly happen to people who are actively in sports or use the shoulder heavily. Exercises are an integral form of treatment for someone suffering from Rotator Cuff injuries. It is also often the first form of treatment that most doctors will prescribe to patients and only when it fails will he recommend surgery.

Shoulder blade stretch

Shoulder blade stretching can be performing either standing up or in a seated position. Reach across your chest with both arms and try to hold onto the opposite shoulder blade. You should be able to feel a tight stretch at both shoulders and hold in the position for 15 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Shoulder elevation

Stand in an upright position with both arms at the side and keeping the elbows straight. Slowly lift up your arms forward to 70 degrees while ensuring that the elbows are still kept straight. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat.

Shoulder rotation

Lie down on the floor on one side of your body and use the hand on the opposite side and bend the elbows 90 degrees. Slowly rotate the shoulder in an upwards direction. You should be able to feel the pressure at the shoulder blade lessening. Continue the rotation for 3 sets of 10 and switch sides.

Bicep curls

Start off with a light weight dumbbell in your hands and slowly bring them up in an alternating manner until you feel a very tight stretch in the biceps and hold in the position for 10 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and switch hands. Perform 3 sets of 15.

Prone Horizontal Abduction

Lie down on your stomach with your hands by the sides. Slowly extend both arms outwards in a parallel manner and until you can feel a tight strain. Hold in the position for 10 seconds and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

Rehab exercises may seem boring and you will not feel motivated to perform them. However, their main purpose is to increase flexion and extension, as well as to strengthen the shoulder. Strong muscles are important if surgery is required in the future and it can help to lessen the recovery period.