Shoulder dislocations frequently occur when an individual participates in certain contact sports, such as football, rugby or karate. Because it is so mechanically complex, the shoulder is vulnerable to a debilitating injury such as a dislocation. An unprotected shoulder suddenly struck by a strong force can push that shoulder up and back, effectively jarring it out of the socket. Falling hard on an unyielding surface may precipitate a dislocated shoulder as well. Because a shoulder is vulnerable to future dislocations once it has experienced a dislocation, performing rigorous exercises is not suggested following such an injury.
As one of the body's most mobile joints, the shoulder consists of many tendons and ligaments necessary to facilitate rotation of the shoulder joint. Two kinds of dislocations may occur. The first is the "complete dislocation," which involves the ball-and-socket (glenoid) joint becoming completely disengaged. The second is a "partial dislocation," indicating that the humerus (top of the upper arm bone) is only partially dislodged from the socket. In addition, ligaments and cartilage suffer tearing during a shoulder dislocation, which exacerbates the condition.
Shoulder Dislocation Treatments
Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder are numbness, weakness, swelling and, of course, pain. Once a physician has put the shoulder's ball back into the socket and immobilized the shoulder and arm with a sling, he will advise an initial treatment program of rest and ice packs for soreness. After swelling and pain subsides, the individual will be able to participate in special rehabilitation exercises that consist mostly of gentle, stretching exercises meant to strengthen the shoulder and prevent future dislocations.
One good rehabilitation exercise to promote dislocated shoulder strength is the pendulum swing. Stand in front of a table, place the hand belonging to the arm of the uninjured shoulder on the edged of the table and bend over. Let your arm belonging to your injured shoulder dangle at your side, then begin slowly swinging that arm in a variety of motions, such as clockwise and side-to-side. Try to increase the amount of motion each day as the shoulder heals and soreness decreases.
If healing of the shoulder progresses without issues, the individuals may begin performing resistance exercises using a resistance band with which to begin. Lifting lightweight dumbbells is also an acceptable form of exercise that will strengthen the dislocated shoulder. For example, a person can lie face down on the edge of a bed, dangle the injured arm over the side while holding a 4-lb. dumbbell and slowly elevate the dumbbell until it is level with the shoulder. However, a doctor should decide if someone recuperating from shoulder dislocation is ready for resistance exercises.