What Are the Treatments for a Dislocated Shoulder?

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    X-Ray

    • Before any treatment can be done on a dislocated shoulder, an x-ray must be taken to confirm the dislocation, determine the place of dislocation, and check for any torn ligaments or extra fractures. The details of the injury will help a doctor determine how to treat the shoulder dislocation.

    Closed Reduction

    • The term "closed reduction" applies to any technique that involves putting the shoulder back into place without the need to cut the body open. According to MedicineNet.com, there are a variety of closed reduction methods that doctors may choose to employ. The following are common maneuvers:
      -Scapular manipulation: While the patient sits or lies on his stomach, the doctor will rotate the shoulder blade to allow the shoulder to relocate itself.
      -External rotation: While the patient lies flat, the doctor flexes the patient's elbow to 90 degrees and rotates the shoulder blade outward, causing the shoulder to relocate.
      -Traction-counter traction: A doctor and her assistant pull at the shoulder in opposite motions, ultimately causing it to relocate.

    Open Reduction

    • In more severe circumstances, open reduction (surgery) must be employed to treat a dislocated shoulder. Open reduction sometimes has to be performed due to blood vessel damage or because a tendon or piece of broken bone has gotten in the way of the dislocation. While closed reduction addresses the dislocation itself, a surgical procedure helps to repair multiple problems.

    Medication

    • Medication may be used both before and after either type of reduction is performed on a dislocated shoulder. For an especially painful dislocation, a mild sedative or muscle relaxant may be given to someone prior to closed reduction. If open reduction is being performed on a dislocated shoulder, anesthesia will be given. Pain medication may be given to a patient who has just had either procedure done.

    Rehabilitation

    • After open or closed reduction is performed on a dislocated shoulder, rehabilitation may include immobilization with a sling and follow-up visits to the doctor. The length of time a patient wears a sling depends on the severity of his injury. Too little time in a sling may make the shoulder extra susceptible to recurrent dislocations, but too much time in a sling may cause a person's joint to lose some range of motion.

    Outlook

    • According to eMedicineHealth.com, 90 percent of people who had a dislocated shoulder before age 20 will have another shoulder dislocation. There is a possibility that recurrent dislocations mean ligament weakness or damage. If this is the case, surgery may be offered as a step to prevent further injury to the shoulder.

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