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Care after shoulder dislocation

Dear Ask The Doctor:
I fell on my arm over the weekend and dislocated my shoulder. I was able to get it back into place within a couple of minutes and went home, iced my shoulder and rested. It was pretty swollen and sore the next couple of days and I figured I could keep it in a sling and rest it. Unfortunately I have to work and my duties are pulling orders for shipping and working on a computer doing inventory and web site maintenance. I took it easy with the orders and was able to only use one arm for most of it. Although that did make it a little sore... But the computer stuff really made it worse since there is no way to do it efficiently with only one arm. I hurt my right shoulder and I am right handed. So my question is what should I do and am I going to make it worse if I keep working? Can I maybe work for half a day? Also do I need to see a doctor or can I just rest it for a few weeks and then start to rehabilitate it? What course of action would you advise? Thank you for your time. -Jason


At that time you probably had a Subluxation of the shoulder; the head of the humerus did not go completely out of the joint socket and then went back in. I would advise you to be careful with your shoulder in the future, because repeated subluxations or luxations of the shoulder deteriorate the capsule and ligaments of the joint, causing chronic pain and instability that may be end up in having an operation to correct recurrent shoulder dislocations. Actually, there are many studies that have shown the increased likelihood of traumatic shoulder arthritis in patients with multiple shoulder dislocations. The operation may consist of both open and arthroscopic treatment of the cause of instability, and of course a Rehabilitation program after surgery to control pain, limitation and regain full function. So, for now try to avoid all movements and activities that can potentially cause dislocation of your shoulder and work out to strengthen the muscles of your shoulders.

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