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Shoulder Dislocation : Basketball Injury : Treatment, Prevention, Synptoms & Causes

What is a shoulder dislocation?
Shoulder dislocation is a very common traumatic injury across a wide range of sports. In most cases, the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) is forced forwards when the arm is turned outwards (externally rotated) and held out to the side (abducted). This causes an anterior dislocation, which make up approximately 95% of all shoulder dislocations.

What are the symptoms of a dislocated shoulder?
  • The injury is usually acute, caused by direct or indirect trauma such as a fall or forced abduction and external rotation.
  • There is a sudden onset of severe pain, and often a feeling of the shoulder 'popping out'.
  • The shoulder will often look obviously different to the other side, usually loosing the smooth, rounded contour.
  • The patient will usually hold the arm close into their body and resist abducting and externally rotating the shoulder.
  • If there is any nerve or blood vessel damage there may also be pins and needles, numbness or discoloration through the arm to the hand.
  • There is usually quite severe pain associated with a dislocation.

What should the athlete do about their dislocated shoulder?
Immediate treatment for a dislocated shoulder has two stages. Firstly to protect the shoulder joint and prevent further damage (e.g. rest in a a sling), and secondly to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The shoulder should be reduced (put back in) by a trained medical professional as soon as possible, never attempt to pop it back yourself as you may cause further damage!

Ideally an X-Ray should be sought prior to reduction to rule out fractures. If this is not possible a post reduction X-Ray must always be sought.

Treatment Of Dislocated Shoulder:

  • Rest and immobilise the shoulder in a sling for 5-7 days.
  • If there are complications such as fractures or soft tissue damage, immobilisation may be over a longer period.
  • You may be prescribed NSAIDS such as ibuprofen to ease pain and inflammation.
  • After the period of initial immobilisation you should be directed to gradually increase your range of pain free movement.
  • You will also need to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles which support the shoulder joint to prevent reoccurrences.
  • Exercises using resistance band are excellent for this in the early stages.

First Aid For Dislocated Shoulder
  • Stop play immediately
  • Seek medical attention
  • Apply ice immediately for 15 minutes
  • Do not attempt to ‘pop the shoulder back in’ yourself
  • If a reduction is not possible immediately, apply a sling to take the weight of the arm
  • Go to hospital if there is not a medical professional available