Posterior shoulder dislocation

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A posterior shoulder dislocation typically occurs once the head of the humerus is moved in an outward manner outside of the socket. This is considered as an uncommon shoulder injury since most cases of shoulder dislocations are typically anterior.


The symptoms of a posterior shoulder dislocation typically include abrupt severe pain in the shoulder joint at the time of injury along with rapid swelling. In most cases, there is full loss of shoulder function that is accompanied by persistent pain and inability to use the affected arm during activity.

The injured shoulder appears deformed where the individual wants to hold the arm out to the side and rotated in an inward manner. Take note that the humerus bone is most likely felt at the rear part of the joint.

Posterior shoulder dislocation
The symptoms of a posterior shoulder dislocation typically include abrupt severe pain in the shoulder joint at the time of injury along with rapid swelling.

To learn to recognize and manage bone and muscle injuries, enroll in a first aid class with a credible provider near you. Once appropriate first aid care is given, you have to bring the individual to a doctor or emergency department as soon as possible.

Possible causes

When it comes to a posterior shoulder dislocation, it typically occurs for two reasons. First is a direct force on the front humeral bone which thrusts it back or posteriorly. The second is a fall onto an extended arm during sports or while at work.

Since both of these scenarios tend to occur in sports, particularly contact sports, other forms of trauma such as vehicular accidents and epileptic seizures in which the individual thrashes the arms out violently can also lead to injuries.


It is important to seek medical care if an individual is suspected with a posterior shoulder dislocation right away. Do not attempt to move the shoulder or position it back in place. Once the individual is taken to the hospital, the doctor will assess the injury sustained by the individual. Imaging tests such as an MRI or X-ray will be taken to check for any associated fractures or soft tissue damage.

Sensations and pulses in the arm, hand and wrist are also assessed in order to determine if there is any damage to the blood vessel or nerve. The treatment usually depends on the severity of the dislocation and how long the shoulder has been dislocated. In cases that do not involve any fractures and the dislocation is only minor, it can be reduced by the doctor. Sedatives, muscle relaxants or anesthetic can be given when this procedure is carried out.

The shoulder must be allowed to rest in order to allow the soft tissues to heal and then followed by a rehabilitation program to restore full strength and movement. In complex cases that involve fractures, extensive damage to the soft tissues or the nerves and blood vessels, surgery is needed in order to reduce the humeral head and repair the damaged structures. Another period of immobilization and rest is required and then a rehabilitation program.

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