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A dislocated shoulder happens when the ball in socket joint of the shoulder becomes out of its proper position. The shoulder is very mobile and this puts it at extra risk of dislocating. A partial dislocation of the shoulder is called a subluxation. The head of the humerus bone is partially out of the socket. It can be returned to its normal position more easily than if the shoulder joint is completely dislocated.

The symptoms of a dislocation of the joint include an obvious deformity of the joint, pain, swelling, numbness of the shoulder and arm, and weakness about the shoulder joint. There can be bruising of the affected area. Ligaments can be torn because of the dislocation.

The shoulder can dislocate forward to the joint, backward or downward. The most common type of dislocation is an anterior dislocation. The humerus is moved forward and downward out of its joint space.

The diagnosis of shoulder dislocation can be made with a clinical diagnosis in which the joint is visibly seen to be out of position. An x-ray can further define the type of dislocation. There can be spasm of the joint muscles which make it difficult to find the ball end of the joint. The doctor will want to know how the dislocation happened and whether or not it has happened before.

The treatment of a dislocated shoulder is to do a closed reduction. This involves putting a person in a relaxed state with medications and then pulling on the shoulder to reduce it into its normal position. If the shoulder can't be put into position that way, the person is knocked out in surgery and the shoulder is reduced via a closed reduction.

The doctor may recommend physical therapy and rehabilitation in order to strengthen the ligaments and tendons so that the individual can avoid a recurrence of the dislocation.

A dislocated elbow is less common than a dislocated shoulder and is more likely to be associated with a fracture of the elbow. The dislocation can be complete or partial. There are three bones associated with an elbow joint and the joint is both a ball and socket and a hinge-type joint. The rotation of the joint allows the joint to pronate and supinate. This is turning the palm up or down. The joint also opens and closes in a hinge-type joint.

Elbow dislocations are relatively rare and tend to occur when a person falls with their hand outstretched. Car accidents can also cause elbow dislocations. It takes a lot of force in order to dislocate the elbow. There are simple dislocations that don't involve bony injury and complex dislocations that can involve a fracture of the bone and ligamentous injury. Blood vessels can be disrupted so that the individual can lose their arm from lack of circulation.

Symptoms of elbow dislocation include pain in the elbow and obvious deformity about the elbow. There can be numbness of the arm and bruising or swelling about the elbow.

The doctor can diagnose a dislocated elbow by examining the obvious deformity. The doctor can also do an x-ray to show the dislocation of the elbow. Pulses of the forearm are checked to see whether or not the circulation has been damaged.

Treatment of a dislocated elbow needs to happen quickly because of the potential for circulatory damage. Treatment of the elbow can be done using closed reduction immediately. The patient is sedated and the elbow is pulled on in order to put it in the proper location. It usually takes two people to relocate an elbow. The elbow is kept in a splint or sling for about three weeks in order to stabilize the elbow. Some people will not be able to straighten out their elbow, even after a successful reduction.

Surgical treatment is sometimes necessary, especially with complex dislocations. Surgery is used to restore bony alignment and to repair the tendons and ligaments.

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Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our personal injury solicitors operate a specialist medical negligence compensation service. Our Dislocated Shoulder/Elbow solicitors deal with claims using a no win no fee arrangement which means that if you don�t win then you don�t pay them their professional costs. If you would like legal advice at no cost with no further obligation just complete the contact form or email our lawyers offices or use the helpline and a Dislocated Shoulder/Elbow solicitor will review your medical negligence compensation claim and phone you immediately.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here