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Early Treatment Of Dislocated Shoulder Helps Prevent Repeat Dislocations

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Prompt and appropriate treatment for a dislocated shoulder can minimise the risk of future dislocations as well as the effects of related bone, muscle and nerve injuries, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) reported this week.

A literature review in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) recommends that patients seek orthopaedic care as soon as possible – at the latest within one week from injury – to ensure the best diagnosis and treatment.

Radiographic images should be examined before and after resetting of the shoulder to check for related fractures and other musculoskeletal injuries. If surgery is required, it´s also important to monitor for possible nerve damage before and after the procedure.

Once the ligaments have healed, physiotherapy will help rebuild strength and prevent frozen shoulder.

The AAOS noted that the shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the human body but it relies on soft-tissue restraints, including the capsule, ligaments and musculature, for stability. As a consequence, this joint is the most common site for a full or partial dislocation.

Shoulder dislocations are classified as “traumatic” or “atraumatic”. Up to 96% of cases are traumatic shoulder dislocation and occur during contact sports, skiing or snowboarding or when someone falls onto an outstretched hand. Symptoms include a severe pain in the arm and sometimes swelling in front of the shoulder, with a corresponding ache and a feeling of looseness.

A thorough understanding of the shoulder´s anatomy, classification of dislocations, anaesthetic techniques and manoeuvres for resetting of the shoulder are crucial for early management of acute shoulder dislocation, the JAAOS article said.