If you're a contact sports athlete, have fallen hard on your shoulder, or just had bad luck that resulted in shoulder strain, there is a serious chance that you have just dislocated your shoulder. Due to its ball and socket joint with the most mobility among our joints, it's no wonder why this is possible. When reinserting the shoulder back into place, shoulder dislocation recovery involves performing several steps, such as protecting your shoulder to prevent further injury.
Please don't move it as soon as you suspect you have dislocated your shoulder. It will prevent additional damage to the area and promptly help you see an orthopedic specialist: immediate treatment is critical! A sling can help maintain the position of your dislocated shoulder until you can be treated by an orthopedic specialist or, better yet, an emergency room doctor.
Medical Treatment Options
When a shoulder is dislocated, the main goal is to get the humerus ball back into the socket as quickly as possible. Essentially, it's essential for individuals with shoulders that are entirely or partially dislocated to get medically treated by a healthcare professional to prevent further injury and pain from ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels.
A closed reduction is when a doctor on the team sets off to help make their patients healthier by manipulating their limbs into better positions using various tools or manipulating the joints. It can be done under light sedation because some exercises might alter an individual's mental state. Don't let this scare you! It does not cause any harm. If done correctly and by a trained professional, you can be 100% safe in their hands when undergoing a procedure such as this one. As for what constitutes a more complex case? The longest one might be about 10 minutes, and even then.
They'll let you know beforehand, but most cases are quick-fire guns! After a closed reduction, your doctor can write you up an analysis report with x-ray images if there were any complications during your treatment, or perhaps no x-rays were necessary!
Doctors might recommend wearing a sling to keep your arm safely in place. It will help you prevent dislocating your upper arm and shoulder again. Doctors may also prescribe an exercise program to recover more quickly from this injury.
Surgery is often the last resort for patients who have the misfortune of dealing with a chronically dislocated shoulder on more than one occasion. You usually only need to have surgery done if there is a severe injury to any ligament, nerve, blood vessel, or even the shoulder tissue. An orthopedic surgeon will discuss the benefits and risks of performing this type of procedure. You're most likely going to need to do some time in the hospital right after your surgery, but depending on which kind of repair it was (if it wasn't complete), you'll likely be able to go home that same day.
Managing the Pain
If this is the first time you've dislocated your shoulder, either from falling or performing an active sport, it can be a surprise how quickly the pain subsides. Depending on how severe it is, it could take days or even weeks to recover from this injury. Here are some of the best ways to manage pain relief and support the healing process.
Resting Your Shoulder
Rest should be your biggest concern after a shoulder dislocation. It's not the time to get into any new projects or hobbies, including starting a house project or any heavy lifting you might typically enjoy during downtime like gardening. Avoid moving your arm above shoulder level and keep it close to your body in particular positions as much as possible. Your cape in a sling can help remind you how important it is to let this injury recover before you start working on anything physical that would put a strain on it.
Cold therapy is a great option to treat your dislocated shoulder. The cold will decrease the pain by cutting off the flow of sensations. It will also help to reduce swelling in soft tissues. Use a shoulder cold pack with compression to chill the entire shoulder while putting minimal pressure on the area. Use an ice wrap for 20 minutes for 2 days after a dislocation.
After the initial injury phase has passed (typically 3-7 days depending on the severity), you can exercise it with heat. For example, a herbal heating pad or even a warm towel over the injured area will promote blood flow (which is good as it encourages healing), soothe sore muscles, and helps you get back on your feet quicker than without treatment. Like cold packs that need to be avoided for 72 hours after an injury, heat treatments should also be undertaken at 20-minute intervals at most. We recommend removing it from potentially hazardous areas since prolonged contact can result in severe burns!
Physical Therapy & Exercises
The shoulder is a complicated joint, and when something goes wrong, shoulder pain can be unbearable. A physical therapist is a perfect person to see in this situation because they are specially trained to deal with soft tissue problems and offer solutions that won't make things worse or even permanently injure you. The physical therapist will help you develop a set of exercises to strengthen your upper body and get your flexibility back up to par as soon as possible. To recover on schedule and avoid any extra injuries, you must keep all your scheduled follow-up appointments with your local physical therapist!
After a shoulder dislocation, you might experience instability in that area, although thankfully, this can be overcome using several mobility aids. A rotating reacher can help you reach items high on a shelf or in a closet and make them easier to manage. This is an ideal product to use when you don't want to stretch as far or when you're feeling uncomfortable while reaching overhead. Similarly, a dressing stick will reduce the bending and twisting of your arm and shoulder as they are used to putting on those tops; what's more, this will make your mobility much easier after the dislocation has healed!
Road to Recovery
A dislocated shoulder is a severe injury that takes 12 to 16 weeks to heal fully. After 2 weeks, most people can exercise certain body parts but should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous movements for another 12 weeks. Your recovery plan can be managed with heat/cold sack, immobility, and rehabilitation/physical therapy/exercising after around 6 weeks of rest. Work with your healthcare professional to create an individual recovery plan because each patient will be different.