Symptoms and Signs of Shoulder Dislocation

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

Doctor's Notes on Shoulder Dislocation

If the shoulder is wrenched upward and backward, it may dislocate out of its socket. A shoulder dislocation is both painful and incapacitating. Common causes of shoulder dislocation include falls, collisions with other people or objects (such as during sports), car accidents, and overuse/repetitive strain (also commonly caused by some sports). Most shoulder dislocations occur at the lower front of the shoulder, because of the anatomy of the shoulder joint.

Symptoms of shoulder dislocation typically include severe pain at the shoulder joint. Other symptoms of shoulder dislocation may include great difficulty moving the arm even a little; when the shoulder is touched from the side, it feels mushy, as if the underlying bone is gone (usually the humeral head -- top of the arm bone -- is displaced below and toward the front); physical deformity; feeling as if the shoulder is loose; hearing pops or clicks in the shoulder area; numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected upper arm; or swelling or bruising of the area.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.