Posterior Shoulder Dislocation

When the head of the humerus bone moves out of place during activity, you have what is called posterior shoulder dislocation. The bone has to move out of socket backwards; otherwise it is an anterior should dislocation.

Posterior shoulder dislocations are actually much less common than their counterparts. However, they are more difficult to identify. Only about 2%-4% of all shoulder dislocations are posterior.

What Caused My Posterior Shoulder Dislocation?

Understanding what causes posterior shoulder dislocation will help to ensure that you get the proper treatment.

1. Injuries or Accidents

There are two main reasons for posterior shoulder dislocations. The first reason is a direct impact that causes the front humeral head to push backwards. The second is trying to catch yourself when you fall, which causes you to fall onto your outstretched arm.

Most of the time, these injuries occur in sports, more often in contact sports. However a car accident, epileptic seizure, or other occurrence that causes the individual to violently thrash their arms around can cause a dislocation.

2. Imbalance in Rotator Cuff Muscle Strength

Sometimes if there is an imbalance in the strength of your rotator cuff muscles, then you may dislocate your shoulder by simple actions. Many times the posterior dislocations of the shoulder go unnoticed, especially in older adults.

3. Seizures and Electrocution

When you lift your arms, the top of your arm bone is generally rotated to the back within the joint. However, when adults have seizures or are electrocuted, the shoulder joint may be forced to rotate in an abnormal direction. Seizures and electrocution are actually the two most common causes of posterior shoulder dislocation even though there are a variety of causes.

How Do I Know If I Have a Posterior Shoulder Dislocation?

The most noticeable indicator that you have dislocated your shoulder is that you will experience exasperating pain in the shoulder joint when you incur the injury. That pain will be followed by immediate swelling.

After the initial pain, you will continue to be in pain and will most likely be unable to use your arm. Your shoulder will look slightly deformed as the end of the humerus bone will be sticking out the back of the joint. The pain will feel as though it lessens when you hold the arm to the side and rotate it inwards.

What You Should Do About Posterior Shoulder Dislocation?

Posterior shoulder dislocations cannot be as easily repaired as their anterior counterparts. When you have an anterior shoulder dislocation you may be able to help fix it yourself. When you have a posterior shoulder dislocation this is not as easy of a feat. You will most likely need to seek medical help.

First Aid for Posterior Shoulder Dislocation

Get medical help as soon as possible, the longer you wait the more difficult it is to put the shoulder back into place.

  • Immobilize the joint. You do not want to move the joint as that can make the surrounding area hurt much more than it already does as well as do more damage to your shoulder joint. Find an item that can be used a splint. Using a stick or broom handle splint the arm in place. Do not try to put it back into place or move it around too much. Simply attach your arm to the side of your body so that it is immobile.
  • Ice the injured joint. After you have splinted the arm, you may place ice on the joint. This will help reduce swelling and ease the pain. By reducing the swelling you will allow your doctor to be able to make a better decision about the next step that needs to be taken.

When you go to the doctor, the treatments for posterior shoulder dislocation are nearly the same to those of anterior shoulder dislocation.

Home Remedies for Posterior Shoulder Dislocation

You are most likely going to be in pain for the next couple of weeks. There are four things you can do to help the healing process.

  1. Restrict shoulder movement. You want to rest your shoulder as much as possible. Not only are the movements going to be painful, but you risk injuring the shoulder again. Move your shoulder as little as possible and definitely do not lift heavy objects for the next few weeks.
  2. Ice it and heat it. Apply ice every couple of hours for 15 to 20 minutes during the first couple of days. This will reduce inflammation and pain. After the first few days, you want to begin applying heat for 15 to 20 minutes every couple of hours. This will allow the sore muscles to relax.
  3. Use pain relievers. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication or you may use over-the-counter pain medications. Only use to help reduce the pain. Be sure to follow the instructions on the package and stop using once the pain improves.
  4. Exercise and stretch your shoulder. After the first few days you will most likely begin light exercises suggested by your doctor or physical therapist. If they did not provide any, ask them for some or do some light stretching and rotating exercises. You want to ensure that you avoid stiff joints so that it heals properly.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from a Dislocated Shoulder?

Most of the time, your doctor will tell you that you can remove the sling after two to three weeks. However, you will need to continue restricted activity with your shoulder. A posterior shoulder dislocation takes approximately 12 to 16 weeks to completely heal.

You will need to avoid lifting heavy object and playing sports until your shoulder is completely healed or you may risk injuring your shoulder again. The team of medical professionals working with you will help set up a treatment plan that includes light exercises and time frames as to when you can start including different activities.

If you have broken your shoulder or joint as well as dislocating it, the healing process may take even longer. Chances are that you will need to continue wearing your sling for up to six weeks before starting light activity.

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