The shoulder joint is the body’s most mobile joint. It can turn in many directions, but this advantage also makes the shoulder an easy joint to dislocate.
A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid). A complete dislocation means it is all the way out of the socket. Both partial and complete dislocations cause pain and unsteadiness in the shoulder.
Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:
Sometimes a dislocation may tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder or damage nerves.
The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward, or downward. A common type of shoulder dislocation is when the shoulder slips forward (anterior instability). This means the upper arm bone moved forward and out of its socket. It may happen when the arm is put in a throwing position.
The muscles may have spasms from the dislocation, and this can make it hurt more. When the shoulder dislocates time and again, there is recurrent shoulder instability.
Your doctor will examine the shoulder and may order an x-ray. It is important that your doctor know how the dislocation happened and whether the shoulder had ever been dislocated before.