Sports Medicine

Shoulder Dislocation

Our Pediatric Sports Medicine team put together these videos to provide information for you.

Drew Warnick, MD

The shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint in the body. It is able to turn in many directions. This greater range of motion makes the shoulder an easy joint to dislocate.

How is the shoulder dislocated?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint that acts much like a golf ball sitting on top of a tee. Strong connective tissue, called the shoulder capsule, is the ligament system that keeps the shoulder attached and centered in the socket.

A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of humerus – "the ball" – is forced out of the glenoid – or the socket. When the head of the humerus dislocates, the ligaments in front of the shoulder are often injured and torn.

What happens if my shoulder has dislocated?

If your shoulder has dislocated, you may continue to have recurrent dislocations. You may have a feeling that the shoulder is unstable or giving out.

How do I know if my shoulder is unstable?

Common symptoms of shoulder instability include: pain, repeated shoulder dislocations, multiple instances of the shoulder giving out, and a persistent sensation that the shoulder feels loose.

At AllSports Medicine, we will examine your shoulder with specific tests to help assess instability of the shoulder. X–rays and Magnetic Resonance imaging may be needed to help identify injuries to the ligaments surrounding your shoulder joint.

What are my treatment options?

At AllSports Medicine, we will develop a treatment plan to relieve your symptoms. Shoulder instability is often first treated with physical therapy and activity modification. Physical therapy is important to increase shoulder control and strengthen the shoulder muscles to increase the stability of the joint. You may also be instructed to avoid activities that aggravate your symptoms. If these options do not relieve the pain and instability, surgery may be needed.

In young athletes, arthroscopic surgery is often necessary to repair or tighten the torn or stretched ligaments that help hold the joint in place. At AllSports Medicine we use cutting edge techniques to look inside the shoulder with a tiny camera and repair the torn ligaments with special pencil-thin instruments.

After surgery, your shoulder will be immobilized with a sling and exercises to rehabilitate the shoulder with be started (physical therapy), Return to full activity is expected in 4–6 months.

More on physical therapy:

Our goal at All Sports Medicine is to get our patient back to participating in their favorite activities, including sports. Therefore, within physical therapy we also assess and work to correct biomechanics; proper techniques for lifting, squatting, running, throwing and so on. Depending on the patient’s prior activity level and needs for returning to sport, we also progress their exercises and give them the knowledge to continue strengthening after discharge from physical therapy by providing a thorough home exercise program, customized to each patient.

Physical therapy at Johns Hopkins All Children’s is provided in an atmosphere developed for teen athletes with a one to one ratio for the highest quality of care needed for maximum outcomes and return to play. AllSports Medicine physical therapy will get you back in the game!