Our last post discussed rotator cuff injuries. Due to the violent nature of skiing and snowboarding related falls, it is also not uncommon for us to see dislocations of the shoulder. A shoulder dislocation is where the head of the humerus (top of the arm bone), moves out of the normal confines of the shoulder joint socket (glenoid). The most common direction of dislocation is anterior (to the front), and the typical mechanism of injury is a combination of outwards rotation with the arm at or above 90 degrees out to the side.
These injuries are usually very painful, and although an x-ray is typically performed and required to rule out other injuries such as a fracture, the dislocation is usually evident from the resultant visual deformation.
It is important that the arm is relocated as soon as possible, as prolonged time spent with the shoulder dislocated may result in nerve and/or blood vessel damage. The relocation should be performed by a medical professional, and occasionally this needs to be done under general anesthetic.
Given the trauma required to dislocate the joint, there is usually damage to the shoulder capsule and ligaments, and an MRI should be performed to identify a possible bankart lesion (damage to the connective tissue around the socket of the joint) or hills-sachs lesion (a compression fracture of the humerus), which may change the management plan.
A shoulder dislocation should be managed in a sling for pain relief for 1-2 weeks, and movement up and out to the side should be minimized for 6 weeks. During this time strengthening exercises can be commenced within safe and pain-free ranges. Full recovery usually takes around 3 months.
Unfortunately, a previous dislocation greatly increases the chances of a future one, and surgery is often required for repeat dislocations.
If you have suffered a shoulder injury on the slopes then contact us now and let us help guide you on the path to recovery.
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