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Understanding Dislocated And Separated Shoulders

Unless you one of the lucky few, you have probably had an injury or two. From cuts to broken bones, injuries can come in several shapes and forms. A few of the injuries that is least talked about are dislocated and separated shoulders. Believe it or not, a dislocated shoulder and a separated shoulder are two distinct injuries that do have a few similarities here and there.

Dislocated Shoulder



This is an injury that is caused by a fall or a blow to the top of your arm bone that causes it to pop out of the shoulder socket. Unlike several other joints in your body, the shoulder is incredibly mobile. You can twist and more your upper arm in any direction, but this also makes the joint inherently unstable and prone to slipping out of place. In severe cases, the tissue and nerves around the shoulder joint get damaged.

Separated Shoulder



Despite its name, this injury does not directly affect the shoulder joint. This instead happens when a fall or blow tears one of the ligaments that connects the collarbone to the shoulder blade. Since it is no longer anchored, the collarbone can be moved out of position and push against the skin near the top of your shoulder. Although separated shoulders can cause deformity, most usually can recover fully with some time.

Despite the differences, both dislocated and separated shoulders can share the same causes including:


  • Falling onto your shoulder

  • Being hit in the shoulder

  • Trying to break a fall with your hand



Dislocated shoulders can also result from a sharp twist of the arm unlike a separated shoulder.

What Does A Dislocated Shoulder Or Separated Shoulder Feel Like?



Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:


  • Pain in the shoulder and upper arm that hurts more when you try to move the area

  • Deformation of the shoulder that looks like a bump in the front or back of your shoulder depending on how the bone has been dislocated




Symptoms of a separated shoulder are:


  • Intense pain as soon as the injury has occurred

  • Tenderness of the shoulder and collarbone

  • Swelling and bruising

  • Deformed shoulder



In order to diagnose either of these conditions, your doctor will need to give you a through exam. You may also require an X-ray to rule out broken bones and other conditions.

What Is The Treatment For Dislocated Shoulder Or Separated Shoulder?



Dislocated shoulders requires immediate treatment. Your doctor or medical professional will need to move the arm bone back into the shoulder socket. Since the joint tends to get more swollen and painful by the minute, the sooner you can get this done, the better. Once your arm bone is back in its socket, some of the pain will disappear.

After your shoulder bone has been repositioned, you will be able to use conservative treatment in order to reduce pain and swelling. This same treatment can be used for a separated shoulder as well.

In order for you to treat either injury, you should:


  • Ice your shoulder to reduce pain and swelling. Do this for around 20 to 30 minutes every 3 to 4 hours for 2 or 3 days.

  • Use a sling or a shoulder immobilizer in order to prevent further injury until you are able to get medical treatment. Once you have since the doctor, ask for advice about whether or not to use the sling and for how long.

  • Take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen or naproxen to help with the pain or swelling. However, you should not use these for an extended period of time unless told to by your doctor.

  • If recommended by your doctor, practice stretching your arm and shoulder.