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Physical Therapy for a Dislocated Shoulder

by Brad McHargue
  • Overview

    A dislocated shoulder occurs when the bone of the upper arm comes out of the shoulder blade socket. It can be extremely painful, and treatment is simply focused on placing the bone back in the socket. According to the Mayo Clinic, once this occurs most of the pain will subside, and once the doctor gives you the OK you should begin physical therapy.
  • Symptoms

    If you have a dislocated shoulder, you will most likely be aware of it by the excruciating pain and the appearance of a bulge in the shoulder, which indicates that the shoulder is out of place. The shoulder may become swollen or bruised, and your range of motion may be compromised. Any movement may bring about severe pain, numbness and tingling in the area surrounding the dislocated shoulder, such as the neck or arm. Spasms may occur, which could exacerbate the pain.
  • Physical Therapy

    Physical therapy is typically employed after a dislocated shoulder has been corrected and kept immobilized for a few weeks. It is often utilized in conjunction with over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers. According to the University of Michigan Health System, a variety of exercises will improve your range of motion. Many of these are isometric exercises that can be completed from the comfort of your home. One example is isometric shoulder adduction, which involves placing a pillow between your chest and arms and squeezing it with your arms for approximately five seconds. Other types of exercises involve weights or resistance, which are recommended once your range of motion begins to return. One such example is resisted shoulder extension, which is accomplished by holding a piece of tubing attached to doorknob on a closed door at waist level and simply pulling your arm back. These are merely two of the many exercises you can do to improve your range of motion after having your shoulder dislocated, and a complete list can be found at the University of Michigan Health System section on dislocated shoulder rehabilitation exercises. Physical therapy is an important part of recovery; without it, you run the risk of damaging the shoulder joint or dislocating it again.

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