Dislocated Shoulder

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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What are risk factors for a dislocated shoulder?

Shoulder dislocations tend to occur in two age groups:

  • Most frequently, the shoulder dislocates in younger adults due to a sporting injury.
  • The second most common age group affected is the elderly patient who falls. As the body ages, the collagen fibers that are the building blocks of tendons, cartilage, and the labrum begin to break down and lose the tight-knit appearance that provides strength to the structures. With age, a reduced amount of trauma (usually a fall on an outstretched hand) is required to dislocate the shoulder.

What types of doctors treat a dislocated shoulder?

Patients with shoulder dislocations are often treated in an emergency department. Emergency specialists are trained to diagnose a shoulder dislocation and to reduce the joint. They are also trained in different methods of sedation.

Orthopedic doctors often provide follow-up care for patients with shoulder dislocations. They are the providers who would also decide whether surgery is required, either for the acute injury or after follow-up to stabilize the shoulder and prevent further dislocations.

Primary-care providers, sports-medicine physicians, certified athletic trainers, and physical therapists all may have a role in caring for the patient during their initial treatment and recovery.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2016

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