What are the signs and symptoms of a dislocation?

If the shoulder is dislocated, it is usually very apparent:

  • The shoulder is quite painful.
  • Motion is severely restricted.
  • The shoulder appears to hang down and forward, with a large dimple evident under the acromion (in the area of the collar bone).
  • The humeral head may be visible as a bump on the front of the shoulder, or in the armpit.
To return the dislocated arm to its socket (called a reduction) usually requires a visit to the emergency department, where expert assistance can be found. Some individuals with recurrent dislocations eventually become experienced at reducing the arm themselves.

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