Anyone experiencing pain or trouble controlling their shoulder should consider whether they could suffer from subluxation in that joint. Shoulder subluxation is when the shoulder sits partially dislocated. The humeral head slips out of place due to a lack of strength in the rotator cuff or loose ligaments. Here are the most important things you need to know about this condition.
How Common Is It?
Subluxation in children or around the spine is much more common than in the shoulder. A few studies have been conducted on those with this condition affecting their shoulders. Those who have suffered from a hemiplegic stroke or paralysis in their upper body are more likely to have this condition, which is expected to be a recurring issue. However, not enough studies have been done to provide conclusive numbers.
What Causes It?
The causes of this condition can be traumatic, non-traumatic, or neuromuscular issues. That means many different things can cause it, including sports, repetitive movements, suboptimal control over shoulder muscles, rotator cuff injuries, strokes, cerebral palsy, and brachial plexus injuries. Therefore, doctors must dig through many possibilities when diagnosing subluxation.
What Are the Symptoms?
The main symptom that people have is shoulder instability. Shoulder instability causes symptoms like repeated dislocations, the shoulder giving out periodically, regularly feeling like the shoulder is loose, and pain. Other symptoms can include weak rotator cuff and deltoids. After all, a rotator cuff lacking in strength can cause this issue.
What Can It Be Mistaken For?
Joint injuries are after sports injuries and other traumatic accidents, like a bike or car accident, and can resemble subluxation. Likewise, traumatic injuries can cause clavicular injuries or shoulder dislocations. These can both look like subluxation due to the traumatic or sports-caused nature. For example, if someone suffering from this condition is a swimmer, pain could be confused with a case of Swimmer’s Shoulder.
Meanwhile, bicep tendinopathy and rotator cuff injuries both cause pain in the shoulder region. Therefore, subluxation can be mistaken for these two. All three of these can occur without a traumatic injury, so that they can confuse medical professionals. However, these tests are very different, so doctors can quickly tell them apart.
How Is It Diagnosed?
First, a doctor will look for specific symptoms, such as pain in the shoulder, loss of range of motion, and a gap between the humoral head and its cavity. The doctor will then perform a series of tests on the humorous, including the subluxation test, pain location identification, and resistance testing. These tests determine if the cause is the humeral head slipping from its place or something else.
Is the Examination Painful?
The first part of the examination will not be painful as the doctor will interview to determine the cause of the subluxation. Then, they will perform a visual inspection, which is also not painful. However, the final portion, which includes the tests, can cause pain for individuals who do suffer from this condition.
How Will Patients Recover?
Many people with this condition are worried about becoming permanently disabled, especially since it tends to reoccur in the same individuals. However, with the proper treatment, this condition can be remedied with no scarring, residual pain, or disabilities. That means that patients will recover completely and with minimal lasting effects.
Does Physical Therapy Work?
After the initial exam, a doctor will likely prescribe physical therapy as the primary treatment. Physical therapy, like in the case of cervical subluxation, is the go-to treatment for this shoulder condition. The good news is that it works and can get people using their shoulders again quickly. Things that a physical therapist might prescribe include:
- Mobility exercises
- Motor control exercises
- Scapular stabilization exercises
- Isometric strengthening exercises
- Manual therapies
Shoulder subluxation is a condition that causes pain and limited mobility in the shoulders. Fortunately, it is treatable with physical therapy. Anyone who suffers from this condition should visit a doctor and get set up with a physical therapist as soon as possible.