A dislocated shoulder occurs when the humerus separates from the scapula at the glenohumeral joint. The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body and as a result is particularly susceptible to subluxation and dislocation
Significant pain, sometimes felt along the arm past the shoulder. Inability to move the arm from its current position, particularly in positions with the arm reaching away from the body and with the top of the arm twisted toward the back. Numbness of the arm. Visibly displaced shoulder. Some dislocations result in the shoulder appearing unusually square. No palpable bone on the side of the shoulder.
In the acute phase of a dislocated shoulder, therapy should be limited. The arm should be immobilized in a sling and swathed for 1-3 weeks. The actual position of the arm in the sling has been debated and thought to be more beneficial to the torn soft tissues with the arm in external rotation. Recent literature has shown that having the arm in internal rotation while in the sling has no impact on the rate of recurrent dislocation when compared with patients immobilized in external rotation.While the patient is in the sling, elbow, wrist, and hand range of motion should be encouraged. Working with the parascapular muscles is also important during this acute phase of rehabilitation since these can be initiated while the patient is still in the sling. These exercises should be continued when the patient comes out of the sling.