Keeping your shoulder immobilized for weeks at a time is no easy or comfortable task, especially at night. But there’s a good reason why medical professionals treat shoulder dislocations with immobilization.
The shoulder joint is the most flexible in the body, making it more likely to dislocate. When the humerus (the upper arm bone) snaps out of the socket of your shoulder blade, your risk of experiencing dislocations in that joint increases.
Immobilization ensures that your shoulder heals in the right position. If you have a dislocation, you may notice pain, deformities, swelling, and a lack of mobility in your shoulder.
Below, we asked Dr. Shoeb Mohiuddin — our expert at Regenerative Pain & Spine in the West Ridge neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois — to go into detail about the importance of immobilization in the treatment of a dislocated shoulder.
How the shoulder is immobilized
Medical experts can put your shoulder back in place without surgery using a procedure called closed reduction. With this procedure, a medical expert manually repositions your upper arm bone into the shoulder blade socket. During the repositioning, you’ll be under local anesthesia.
A closed reduction takes about half an hour to perform if it’s your first shoulder dislocation. If you’ve had several dislocations, you may be recommended imaging tests to check for damaged ligaments, which could be causing your shoulder to pop out of place repeatedly.
Soon after, you’ll wear a sling or a brace. During the first few days after the closed reduction, you may experience swelling, and you may need to ice your shoulder.
Why is immobilization used during the healing process?
The goal of immobilization is to encourage healing in the right anatomic position and minimize the risk of potential shoulder dislocations in the future.
For how long will I have my shoulder immobilized?
Depending on your history of dislocations and the severity of your dislocation, you can expect to wear a sling or a brace for anywhere between two and six weeks.
After taking off your sling or a brace, your muscles will be weaker and stiffer. To help you regain strength and prevent further loss of muscle mass, experts may recommend physical therapy.
Physical therapy can also improve the stability of the shoulder joint, reducing the risk of future dislocations.
Manage pain and stiffness caused by a shoulder dislocation
Some people are left with pain and stiffness after a dislocation. Dr. Mohiuddin specializes in pain management and noninvasive treatments that speed up recovery. He can offer physical therapy so you can regain strength and mobility in your shoulder.
Contact us to schedule an appointment and find out how you can enjoy a smooth recovery after a shoulder dislocation.