Shoulder Dislocation

October 28, 2009

Filed under: UPPER LIMB — Tags: , , , , — Andy Bellamy @ 5:12 pm

What is a dislocation? Everyone knows, right? A true dislocation of a joint requires the complete separation of the two sides of a joint. What is often called a dislocation is actually a sub-luxation, or partial separation – they still hurt and do damage, but tend to recover faster.

This is an example of a shoulder dislocation. It is of a rare type, inferior, (or downwards into the armpit), and is caused by hyperabduction and makes up only 1% to 2% of all dislocations. This is a Luxatio erecta type.

1_16.12.08 A&E

So, if it is so rare, why does it matter? Well, it is rare overall, but is relatively common in sporting people who fall!  Mountain biking, moto-X, soccer goalkeeping, equestrian sports and skateboarding.

If YOU end up in the emergency room with your arm stuck above your head, the chances are that they will not have seen it. The key to relocating this joint is to dislocate it again first…..FORWARD, creating an ANTERIOR dislocation, then a more normal reduction to its proper position.

As well as the usual problems associated with dislocations, (AC joint, nerve and blood vessel damage), the inferior type causes damage to the floor of the armpit and can lead to  concurrent fractures of the upper arm, AC joint, as well as injury to the nerves, (brachial plexus), or specifically to the axillary artery.

Recovery can be slow, even with conventional physical therapies, medication and exercises. You will probably have to start with PASSIVE movements, such as pendulum swinging which you can see if you run the video. Remember that passive means just that – let someone else make the movements for you, (physio,osteopath), or use the weight of a tin of beans or can of coke and your body movements to generate the impetus.

Repeat these exercises several times a day and at every opportunity. If you don’t use the range of motion, you may well lose it! Repeat each direction on movement about 30 to 40 times. ie, 30-40 clockwise, anticlockwise, front-to-back, etc.

Good luck with your rehab and make use of all the tools available to you; information, professional advice, devices like the Rotater and, most of all, use your imagination.