How to Reduce a Dislocated Shoulder

People who sustain a shoulder dislocation will need to have the shoulder restored to its decline position, a process referred to as “ reducing the shoulder. ” If this occurs, you would not normally try to restore it yourself, but quite seek checkup aid to avoid damaging tissues, nerves, and blood vessels in and around the shoulder joint .

In some cases, this may not be possible. Hikers, kayakers, mountaineers, and other outdoor athletes may be days from avail and should learn how to by rights reduce a shoulder in the consequence of an accident .

If not treated in a timely manner, a dislocate shoulder may lead to potentially good complications, including permanent steel injury, avascular necrosis ( bone death due to the disability of blood menstruate ), and the loss of joint mobility and range of motion .

Symptoms of Shoulder Dislocation

A dislocate shoulder is frequently unlike what you see in the movies. The signs may be overt or elusive. The dislocation can be partial ( referred to as subluxation ) or complete ( luxation ) .

Common symptoms of a shoulder dislocation include :

  • Sudden pain around the shoulder
  • Deformity of the shoulder
  • Holding the forearm due to shoulder pain

If you think you have a dislocate shoulder, you should seek medical attention arsenic soon as possible. If no medical aid is available, you can proceed with the reduction of the shoulder, albeit with extreme caution .


The self-reduction of a shoulder should not be used to avoid medical care or to self-treat perennial dislocations that would alternatively benefit from a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment interventions .

Step-by-Step Guide to Shoulder Reduction

In a health concern setting, anti-inflammatory injections or brawn relaxants are park order anterior to a reduction, but, in the wilderness or a outback set, these are normally not available. This is of refer, as the decrease of a joint is near-impossible if the muscles around the shoulder are tense and in seizure .

consequently, the first and arguably most important step is to get the injured person to relax a much as possible prior to the reduction. Do not proceed if there is any screech, panic, or chaos. rather, create a calm environment, removing anyone who may be causing undue try, anxiety, or agitation .

How to reduce a dislocated shoulder
illustration by Cindy Chung, Verywell
To reduce a disjointed shoulder :

  1. Have the injured party lie down on their back in a comfortable position, allowing the muscles around the shoulder to relax as much as possible.
  2. Allow the injured person to rest for several minutes, encouraging long, deep inhalations and exhalations rather than rapid breathing. It often helps to coach the individual to follow your breathing patterns until they settle.
  3. To begin, slowly extend the injured arm out to the side, raising the arm gently and bending the elbow so that the palm of the hand touches the top of the head. The arm can be supported by a helper, although this is not necessary. Movements should be slow; pain is a sign to slow things down.
  4. Gently rotate the hand behind the head.
  5. Gradually move the hand from the back of the head down toward the nape of the neck (as if you were trying to scratch your neck).
  6. Next, move the hand toward the opposite shoulder. As this is done, the shoulder should pop back into place, and immediate relief should be felt. Do not push, pull, or tug the arm.
  7. If the joint doesn’t pop back instantly, take several moments to relax, breathing in slowly and deeply, and try again. When fully relaxed, the chances of a successful reduction are good.
  8. When the shoulder is back in its proper position, keep the upper arm to the side of the body with the forearm folded across the abdomen in a 90-degree position.
  9. If it is comfortable to do so, place a towel or cloth under the injured forearm to create a sling, tying the ends over the opposite shoulder (one end to the front and one end to the back).
  10. Seek medical assistance immediately.

If the reduction efforts do not work, do not panic or try to force the roast into home. There could be other problems, such as a fracture or ruptured connection tissues, that are interfering with the reduction. In such cases, bind a towel or fabric around the person ‘s upper body to stabilize the shoulder in a comfortable place and search immediate aid .

A Word From Verywell

If the self-reduction of a dislocate shoulder is necessity, the keywords to remember are “ slow ” and “ relax. ” pain is a gestural that you are either moving besides promptly, the muscles are excessively tense, or there may be other injuries that you are unaware of .

It is far better to take as much clock time as reasonably needed before performing the reduction. Unless there is extreme pain, it frequently helps for the injure party to merely lie in a comfortable placement, chew the fat, and allow any panic to subside. A dull breathing rate is much the sign of the zodiac that you are fix to proceed .

After the shoulder is by rights reduced, seek medical serve even if everything seems 100 % o. There may be other problems that need tending to that entirely a doctor can diagnose. Pain control condition and shoulder rehabilitation efforts may besides be needed .

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