How To Set a Dislocated Shoulder

A dislocated shoulder is a painful injury to have, and definitely one that you need to correct immediately to avoid long-term damage. If you or someone you're with throws his shoulder out of joint, follow this guide on how to set a dislocated shoulder.

Step 1

Be aware of the patient's history. Before you attempt to set a dislocated shoulder, you should be aware of the person's previous medical history. Especially if this is his first joint dislocation, you want to rush him to a hospital. You can't be too sure of whether or not the dislocated shoulder is accompanied by fractions, breaks or other internal injuries. It's best to leave the first diagnosis up to the doctors.

Step 2

Determine if you can set the dislocated shoulder yourself. If this is not a person's first shoulder dislocation, you can probably set the shoulder back in place yourself. If there isn't any other severe trauma that warrants a trip to the emergency room, then you're safe to perform this procedure on the spot.

Step 3

Determine what type of dislocation it is. Once you have determined that it isn't a patient's first shoulder dislocation, you need to find out what kind of a dislocation your patient has. If it is an anterior dislocation, which is most common and this isn't the patient's first time with the injury, he or yourself can reset it. If it is a posterior shoulder dislocation (which may be the result of a seizure, electrocution or other traumatic accident), then the rear side of the shoulder needs to be reset only while the patient is under general anesthesia. You should never try to set a posterior shoulder dislocation.

Step 4

Make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible. While your patient is obviously in a lot of pain from an anterior shoulder dislocation, try to put him into as comfortable of a position as possible. Have him sit or lie down. And give him something to numb the pain (topical pain killers, oral pain killers, and so on). Even caffeine and nicotine are said to help with the sting of setting a dislocated shoulder.

Step 5

Relocate the shoulder. Once the patient is comfortable, you can begin the manual shoulder relocation. Put the upper in its resting position, facing downward at the ground. If the patient prefers, it is also okay to bend his elbow or draw it into his chest as well. Bend the elbow at a 90˚ angle, rotate the arm inwards to make a letter ‘L'. Then slowly and steadily rotate the entire arm and shoulder outward, trying to keep the upper portion of the arm as stationary as possible. Make a fist with the hand on your patient's injured arm, and then hold on to his wrist and begin to push slowly. Just when the bottom of his arm is past 90˚ from his chest, the shoulder should fall back into its joint.

Understand that the process of setting a dislocated shoulder is not a comfortable one for the patient or for the one who has to set it. Don't worry - after a few seconds, the dislocated shoulder will be properly set and both you and your patient will feel a lot better.


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