About Shoulder Dislocations

What is it and what are your treatment options?
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267
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What is a Shoulder Dislocation?

The shoulder is the most mobile joint of the body. The head of the humerus (arm bone) and glenoid cavity of the scapula (shoulder blade) form the ball and socket joint. The joint is held in place by the rotator cuff tendons and the soft tissue glenoid labrum. A partial dislocation (subluxation) means the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is partially out of the socket (glenoid). A complete dislocation means it is all the way out of the socket.

Common Causes:

  • Existing tear
  • Sport injury
  • Traumatic accidents
  • Falls

Symptoms of a Shoulder Dislocation may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Inability to move the arm and shoulder
  • A visible anatomical deformity

Patients who experience a shoulder dislocation should immediately make an appointment with an Orthopedic Physicians Alaska (OPA) team of shoulder specialist as soon as possible. Delaying treatment increases the chances of another dislocation.

When you arrive for your initial consultation, one of our team of shoulder specialists will evaluate your areas of concern, discuss your symptoms, and develop a customized and comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This evaluation is a necessary part of diagnosing your condition and providing the best possible care.

When diagnosing a shoulder dislocation, The OPA Shoulder Specialist:

  • A medical, injury, and symptom history review
  • A physical examination
  • Multiple view x-rays or MRI

Once an official diagnosis is made, a customized treatment plan is prescribed. Treatment plans decrease symptoms as quickly as possible and then treat your underlying cause.

Common Treatments:

A shoulder dislocation may require immediate medical attention. If the shoulder does not relocate to its normal position on its own, a closed reduction is performed. Once the shoulder is relocated and the cause for the dislocation is determined, a treatment plan is prescribed. Nonsurgical treatment options include the following:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)

Decrease inflammation and pain.

Rest & Ice

Temporarily stopping or slowing down activities that cause shoulder tendonitis gives inflammation a chance to calm down.

Physical Therapy

One of OPA’s onsite physical therapist prescribes and monitors strengthening and stretching exercises.


Corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory medications provide fast-acting pain relief. Often times, injections quickly reduce symptoms while slower acting treatment options began to work.

Surgical Treatments:

If nonsurgical treatment options do not reduce symptoms and stabilize the shoulder, surgical intervention may be recommended. The team of shoulder specialists has expertise in performing minimally invasive arthroscopic shoulder procedures. Two commonly performed procedures are:

Rotator Cuff Repair

Suture anchors are used to repair the torn tendon and reattach it to the head of the humerus.

Labrum Repair

Suture anchors are used to repair the torn labrum and reattach it to the outer rim of the glenoid cavity.

At OPA, our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Surgeons are experts in diagnosing and treating shoulder dislocations.

If you are experiencing pain and would like a treatment solution you should contact OPA to schedule an appointment at any of our convenient locations in Anchorage and Eagle River.

Schedule An Appointment

To receive an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan, please make an appointment with one of our Orthopedic Team Specialists at our offices conveniently located in Anchorage and Wasilla, AK.
Anchorage: (907) 562-2277
Wasilla: (907) 357-2267

OPA Shoulder Team

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Owen Ala, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Deryk Anderson, DO

Orthopedic Specialist

Tucker Drury, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Adam Ellison, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Robert Hall, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Christopher Manion, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Jeff Moore, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Eli Powell, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Greg Schweiger, MD

Orthopedic Specialist

Our Mission

To provide the finest orthopedic surgery and musculoskeletal care in North America, offering general and specialized adult care to all Alaskans and visitors.


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