Adult Dislocated Shoulder

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What has happened?

  • You have dislocated/disrupted your shoulder - this means your upper arm bone has moved out of its joint
  • As shoulders are generally very mobile, this is a common injury in the young
  • Your shoulder will have now been put back into place by ED staff

What should I expect?

  • You will likely need to wear a sling for 1 - 3 weeks
  • During this time, you may need simple pain such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
  • Recurrent dislocation is the most common complication, and are more likely in those under 30 years old
  • You will likely be able to return to sport after 12 to 16 weeks

What should I do?

  • It is important to get your shoulder moving after the period of immobilisation in a sling. Start by leaning forward with the arm hanging down and rotating it in small circular movements
  • You may wish to see a physiotherapist to help with rehabilitation - remember to take your ACC form/number with you

What should I not do?

  • It is important to avoid putting your shoulder into any extreme positions for the first several weeks following your injury

Will I be followed up?

  • Yes, a follow-up appointment in the Orthopaedic Clinic will be requested when you leave ED and you will be contacted regarding a date and time

What if I have concerns/questions?

  • If you have problems with the rehabilitation of you shoulder, you should see your GP in the first instance - take your ACC form/number with you
  • If your shoulder does not settle or if you have another dislocation, then your GP or physio may refer you to an orthopaedic specialist who will decide if you need surgery