When a shoulder dislocates, it means the top of the upper arm bone has either partially or fully slipped out of the joint socket. Because the shoulder joint moves in all directions, it is unstable and prone to dislocation. Injury is usually the cause of dislocation. Swelling, pain, numbness, weakness, bruising, and other symptoms may occur, especially if the shoulder dislocation causes a ligament or tendon to tear or damages a nerve. Once a shoulder dislocates, chances are good it will do so again.

Diagnosing Shoulder Dislocations

Physical Exam

Your physician will ask you a series of questions and is likely to do a physical exam. The physical exam will include examining any specific areas of concern, especially as they relate to the reason for your visit to the office.


A form of electromagnetic radiation with very high frequency and energy. X-rays are used to examine and make images of things such as the bones and organs inside the body.

Treatment for a Disloacted Shoulder

Closed Reduction (for Shoulder Dislocation)

Process by which the doctor places the ball of the upper arm bone (humerus) back into the joint socket. Severe pain from a dislocated shoulder stops almost immediately once the shoulder joint is back in place.