Due to the shoulder joint’s mobility, shoulder dislocations are relatively common and usually the result of trauma. Young males, in particular, are at risk for shoulder dislocations due to their more active lifestyles and participation in contact sports in particular. Shoulder dislocations are diagnosed through X-ray and, if the shoulder is out of joint a physician must perform a reduction to move the bone back into its proper position.
Following a shoulder dislocation, patients may be advised to undergo physical therapy to strengthen their muscles and prevent future dislocations. For some patients, this conservative treatment is appropriate and succeeds in preventing future dislocations. However, for other patients recurrent shoulder dislocations occur and can be very bothersome. In these cases, surgery is generally needed to prevent future dislocations.
Shoulder stabilization surgery aims to repair the ligaments around the shoulder to improve stability. It can be either open or arthroscopic, and there are pros and cons to both surgeries. The arthroscopic approach is less invasive, resulting in lower risk for infection and shorter hospital stays. However, the open surgery may have a lower rate of recurrence in some cases. Patients are advised to speak with an experienced surgeon to discuss these risks and benefits and choose the surgery type that suits their needs.
After the surgery, patients will have to wear a sling. It is important that patients do not overuse their shoulder early on. The shoulder needs time to heal and it is generally recommended that patients use the sling for 4 weeks. Patients are also advised to apply ice or a cryotherapy device to minimize discomfort and swelling. Patients will also be assigned physical therapy exercises to help prevent stiffness in the joint. Shoulder stabilization surgery can eliminate shoulder dislocations and restore patients’ confidence in playing sports and everyday activities.