Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre Common Injury Series

Article 2: Shoulder Injuries in Sport – Dislocations

The shoulder is one of the most mobile joint in the human body.  It’s ball and socket formation with shallow socket provides almost a complete half spherical range of motion or more. However with mobility and freedom comes weakness and vulnerability.

The shoulder is held in place by a complex formation of ligaments, muscles and tendons which function to provide shoulder strength, movement and some stability. However the shoulder is still a very easily and commonly injured joint.

Dislocations:  The shoulder is commonly injured during contact sports, but can also be hurt with a fall or unexpected load such as catching a heavy ball in an awkward position.   The common position of dislocation is above the head and out to the side.   A dislocation happens when force is applied in this position and the hand forced backwards. The head of the humerus, the bone on the upper arm, pops out of the socket and tears the ligaments/capsule holding it in place.

Rehabilitating such an injury is particularly difficult due to the stretching/tearing of the ligaments and capsule of the shoulder.   Most people know someone whose shoulder “pops out” often and they have to “pop it back in”.  This is a situation where the damage is so great that the shoulder can never be stable again without surgery.

However, this situation can be prevented by seeking physiotherapy early, to ensure proper exercise and rehabilitation.  The shoulder can be immobilised, and then stabilised through strengthening the muscles of the shoulder.  By completing an appropriate rehabilitation program, many shoulders that continue to cause pain and disability for months and years following dislocation can be fixed.

However, sometimes a shoulder has been dislocated too often or too severely to be rehabilitated and may require surgery.

If you have a Shoulder Dislocation injury; seek physiotherapy. Treatment can be the difference between weeks of lingering pain, or between re-injury and full recovery.

About the Author: As a physiotherapist, Victorian State Touch Rugby representative and regular weekend sports warrior, Jordan Coleman has extensive experience in the treatment of common sports related injuries.

For consultation with Jordan Coleman at Waverley Park Physiotherapy Centre call on 97950668.