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A to Z: Dislocation, Shoulder

A dislocation is when the ligaments that hold the bones of a joint together are stretched and the bones separate. A shoulder dislocation causes the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) to slip out of its normal position in the shoulder socket.

illustration

More to Know

The shoulder can become dislocated due to a blow to it or the upper arm, or when the shoulder gets pulled while the arm is reaching out, which often happens during sports.

A dislocated shoulder may move back into place on its own, or a doctor might gently put it back with a maneuver called a reduction. If a reduction is needed, medication is given to make the person comfortable during the maneuver.

Keep in Mind

A shoulder immobilizer or sling is usually worn for a few weeks. After the immobilizer is taken off, physical therapy is generally needed to improve shoulder strength and motion. Usually, people return to most normal activities within a couple of months, although a return to full sports participation can take longer.

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.

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