Shoulder Dislocation and Rehabilitation

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint we have in our body, but this comes at a cost, as it is also one of our most lax joints. This is because rotator cuff muscles and ligaments hold the shoulder in position.

A common injury is dislocations. This occurs when the head of the humerus comes out of the socket. This can cause inflammation and damage to soft tissue surrounding the area.

Shoulder dislocations occur through direct trauma to the shoulder typically from a fall or a sporting injury.

The symptoms that present when dislocation are as follows:

  • Popping sound on impact
  • Abnormal appearance of the shoulder
  • Restricted shoulder movements
  • Pain
  • Weakness

If you suspect a shoulder dislocation, you should not try and put the shoulder back into place. This is because there may be damage to nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Go directly to the hospital.


A doctor or physiotherapist at the hospital performs the diagnosis of the shoulder. X-ray will be performed to diagnose the severity of dislocation and rule out any further complications.


Once a dislocation is confirmed, pain relieving medication will be provided to alleviate the symptoms.

A doctor or physiotherapist will then relocate the shoulder. The shoulder is then immobilised with a sling for a few days to allow for the shoulder to heal. The surrounding soft tissue will be lax and there is a chance of dislocation again.

Rest from work and other strenuous tasks to avoid further damage. The sling can be taken off after a few days, it is then important to start to perform pain free shoulder exercises.

A physiotherapist will be the best person to educate you and help you towards your goals. Typically, a shoulder mobilisation and strengthening exercise will be performed.

Rehabilitation from a shoulder dislocation can take up to 10-12 weeks.

Here at Central Health we have qualified physiotherapists who will be able to rehabilitate your shoulder so you can return to normal pain free day-to-day activities as quickly as possible. Bespoke exercise programs will be provided to meet your needs.

Our clinics are well equipped to meet all your rehabilitation goals.

At Central Health we believe in ‘Making a Better You’

Blog compiled by Kar-Shing Tien, Senior Chartered Physiotherapist at Central Health


We Are Fully Accredited