You’ll probably be feeling extreme pain across your whole shoulder, and whenever you try to lift anything or raise your arm the pain will get worse. There might be a bump at the top of your shoulder, which is normally very tender.
People normally dislocate a joint after falling onto their hand or elbow, or onto the point of their shoulder. What most often happens is that the joint partially dislocates, which is called a subluxation.
Your shoulder specialist will chat through the symptoms and what has happened and then examine your shoulder. They’ll take an X-ray too, and may ask you to carry a weight in the affected hand during the X-ray. This helps to stress the joint and make the dislocation more obvious.
The joint can suffer a range of injuries, from a simple sprain to a full dislocation. Most sprains and many dislocations just need a sling to rest the joint for a few days, followed by exercises to help you regain all the movement in your shoulder. You should find that it takes about six weeks for the discomfort to disappear. A bump will probably remain, but otherwise the injury should heal well.
With more severe dislocations, you will need surgery to put the joint back together and repair the torn ligaments. The specialist shoulder surgeon will often use an arthroscope, which is a kind of endoscope inserted into the joint via a small incision. It’s worth noting that any mild dislocations that are left to heal may go on to cause problems and may need surgery later.