What to Do When Your Child’s Shoulder Gets Dislocated

The chances of a shoulder dislocation happening to your kid are higher than you may think. To get an idea of how a dislocation happens, imagine the shoulder as a golf ball sitting on a tee. The dislocation happens when the golf ball comes out of the socket.

Because the shoulder has a wide range of motion and can move in different directions, it is considered as the body’s most mobile joint. However, this quality comes at a price: the joint is increasingly unstable, which makes the shoulder vulnerable and easy to dislocate.

Dislocation happens the moment the adjoining bones are no longer aligned with each other. The direction of the dislocation can be at the front (anterior) or at the bottom (inferior), but rarely at the back (posterior).

Causes of Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocations are caused by injuries from contact sports such as football. Anterior shoulder dislocations happen when the arm is outstretched and is then forced backwards, something that frequently happens during arm tackling in football. Dislocations can also be caused by significant trauma not necessarily related to sports, such as during a fall or a vehicle accident.

Dislocations are often quite painful, and are usually accompanied by swelling, bruising, and tenderness. There may even be partial numbness and inability to move the joint.

Difference between Subluxation and Dislocation

Dislocation means that the shoulder’s ball and socket have been disconnected from each other, while subluxation is a type of dislocation where there is less trauma, and the ball and socket are not fully separated.

Treatment for Shoulder Dislocation

If your child’s shoulder gets dislocated, the first course of action is to put the injured shoulder in a splint or sling, then put some ice to reduce the swelling and relieve the pain.

The next step is to seek professional medical attention. You will need to consult with a San Diego pediatric orthopedic surgeon to put your child’s shoulder back into place. This process is called reduction.

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