Shoulder Dislocation: A Painful Injury
The shoulders are the most common joint in the body to dislocate. The arm is moved away from the body (abducted) and externally rotated (turning the forearm, palm side up). The joint gives way, and the humeral head, or the ball of the joint, is ripped out of the socket. The structures that hold the shoulder together are torn, including the joint capsule, cartilage, and the ligaments of the rotator cuff.
People with this injury appear in the ER in a fair amount of pain, and pain control is the first priority. The usual sequence of events begins with drugs to help with the pain, a quick exam by the doctor, followed by x-raysto make sure no bones are broken. Then the dislocated shoulder can be reduced; and most people prefer to be aggressively sedated for the procedure.