What Are the Treatments for Shoulder Subluxation?


A shoulder that is unstable refers to a shoulder joint where the ball of the joint is loose within the socket and slides around within the joint, sometimes causing pain and lameness. Shoulder instability generally leads to a shoulder subluxation, or partial dislocation of the shoulder joint. Shoulder subluxations in people are usually caused by injury, such as car accidents and athletic injuries, or from repeated rotational movements of the arm.

What is a Shoulder Subluxation

A shoulder subuxation is the partial dislocation of the shoulder joint.

How to Recognize the Symptoms of a Shoulder Subluxation

Symptoms of a shoulder subluxation normally include: intermittant pain, loss of full mobility of the affected arm, tingling, and numbness.


Treatments for shoulder subluxations vary with the patiet's medical history and the severity of the subluxation. People who have not previously experienced a subluxation and are treated relatively quickly after the onset of symptoms may only require a mild sedative and manual replacement of the humerus.

If the subluxation is severe, or is chronically recurring, a surgical intervention is usually the recommended course of action.


In a subluxation surgery, several approaches can be taken. The most common is to stabilize the joint by “fixing” the ball of the shoulder into the socket by adding stability in the form of screws and sutures. This treatment is designed to support the joint while physical therapy is used to strengthen the muscles. The other, less common corrective procedure includes removing the ball from the head of the humerus and permanently affixing the remainder of the arm to the socket.

After Treatment Care

In each of these cases, the patient will be expected to refrain from using the affected arm and undergo several weeks or months of physical therapy afterward, aimed at strengthening the muscles that surround the joint in an effort to prevent a recurrence.


The success rate of the treatment varies, depending on the severity of the condition, the method for reducing the subluxation, and the medical history of the patient. A manual replacement of the joint will have the highest incidence of recurrence, while a surgically repaired joint will generally remain stable for a considerable amount of time post surgery.

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