Dislocated Shoulder - Complications

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What were the complications related to your shoulder dislocation?

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What are potential complications of a shoulder dislocation?

Fractures of the bones that make up the shoulder joint are a possible complication of shoulder dislocations. Up to 25% of patients will have an associated fracture. Not included in these numbers are the Hill-Sachs deformity that may occur in up to 75% of anterior shoulder dislocations.

Nerve damage is a potential complication. Most often, the circumflex axillary nerve is injured. The first sign of injury is numbness in a small patch distribution on the outside of the upper arm. This nerve often recovers spontaneously in a few weeks, but this is an important complication for the health-care professional to recognize since damage to the nerve may cause weakness of the deltoid muscle that helps move the shoulder.

Older patients who dislocate their shoulder may have rotator cuff injuries. The diagnosis may be difficult to make initially, and often the health-care professional will make the diagnosis during a follow-up visit.

Rare complications of shoulder dislocations include tearing of the axillary artery, the main artery that supplies blood to the arm and brachial plexus injury, in which the nerve bundle that attaches the arm nerves to the spinal cord is damaged. Both of these structures are located in the axilla or armpit and are potentially damaged by the initial dislocation or by attempts to reduce the dislocation.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: rocknroll1968, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: September 09

My left shoulder dislocated (all anterior) as a result of severe trauma in 2007. The arm was placed in a sling and PT was prescribed after 6 weeks. Full recovery took 6 months. At the beginning of 2013 the same shoulder was dislocated in a mild trauma. Four months later another dislocation occurred under minor trauma. All dislocations where reduced by closed reduction. Shoulder partially dislocated 2 weeks ago while yawning and stretching. An MRI and ex-rays revealed a Hills Sachs deformity and rotator cuff damage plus some ligament damage. I am a 65 year old man and I rather not undergo surgery since I have no pain and full range of motion in the damaged shoulder. However, due to the instability now present it would be wise for me to get the existing damage surgically repaired as more dislocations can be expected due to this joint instability.

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Comment from: Rajat, 0-2 Male (Caregiver) Published: July 22

During my son's birth time, his right side shoulder got distorted and after that, for one month there is no movement at shoulder and elbow area. After one month slight movement is observed at shoulder area but still no movement at elbow area and last ten days I am noticing growth difference in both hands.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


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