Shoulder Subluxation

What is Shoulder Subluxation?

Shoulder subluxation is a restricted part of shoulder joint. Shoulder joint is the connection between head of humerus and glenoid cavity of the shoulder blade and associated muscles are ligaments help to hold the joint in a correct position and give stability of the joint. Shoulder subluxation occurs when holding tissues become weak and do not provide the stability at the joint. Dislocation and subluxation is not a same type of disorder. In dislocation, the humerus is fully perturbed from glenoid cavity. Athletes frequently suffer with shoulder subluxation.

Shoulder subluxation Types

Image 1 – Shoulder Subluxation types and severity

The shoulder subluxation occurs due to injuries in associated tissues like labral tears and arm bone injury specifically lesions in humeral head, causing shoulder subluxation. This type of injury is common in contact sports specifically boxing, rugby. Excessive shoulder joint movement is not recommended for shoulder subluxation as vigorous movement generates stress in the joint which also cause shoulder subluxation.

Sports activity such as water polo, skiing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and basketball requires continuous hand movement and force and jerk generated at the shoulder joint. These types of continuous jerking causes shoulder subluxation. Faulty training for swimming strokes or throwing technique can also increase stress in the shoulder joint and resultant as shoulder subluxation. Gradual degeneration in the associated tissues is also happened during daily activity like weight lifting and other occupational hazards such as garage mechanical activities or any manual forceful machine operation can cause gradual degeneration is the associated muscles and connective tissues of the shoulder joint.

Symptoms of Shoulder Subluxation

The symptoms are not universal for all who suffers. The common symptom is severe pain at the shoulder join. Other associated symptoms are

  • Nocturnal and early morning pain increment
  • Throbbing sensation at the shoulder joint.
  • Restricted shoulder movement
  • Shoulder muscles become much early fatigue than the previous
  • Weakness at the shoulder joint
  • Inflammation at the shoulder
  • Bones of shoulder joint protruded.
  • Lying down at the side of affected shoulder cause pain increment
  • In severe case total cessation of hand movement
  • Incidence is reappear frequently in severe case
  • In more severe case, the simple activity like yawning or rolling during sleep may cause Shoulder subluxation.

Treatment of Shoulder Subluxation

Ice Compression

Regular interval of application of ice cold compression is beneficial for reduction of swelling at the initial stage of the disorder.


Analgesic medicines are helpful to reduce pain. Different analgesic ointments and tablets are available as OTC product in the pharmacy shop.

Using of shoulder sling

Shoulder sling is help to restrict the movement of the shoulder joint which gives the rest of the joint and accelerates heal of the injury. But it is advisable to not wear the sling for whole day which may restrict the blood circulation.

Shoulder sling for subluxation

Image 2- Shoulder sling for subluxation

Take a break from regular activity

Rest is a natural healer so take a break from stressful physical activity. This will helps in mild cases.

Physical Therapy

Skilled physio therapist by applying electro therapy or other physical therapy can improve the condition.


Experience and skilled professional by proper applying of acupuncture techniques improves the patient condition


When the initial symptoms disappear then frequent incidence can be restricted by regular exercise. The exercise which are helpful for shoulder joint flexibility and reduce frequent appearance of shoulder subluxation are described below. But before you initiate the exercise it is advisable to consult with doctor and also the repetition time because vigorous workout is not advisable for shoulder subluxation.

Squeeze your shoulder blade

At commences of the exercise stand straight and look forward. Gently bend your head  in upward direction, stretch your arm and slightly bend shoulder in backward direction. Gradually squeeze both the shoulder blades and keep them closure. Firmly hold the position for 5 seconds and then release the pressure. Do this under the guidance of physiotherapist.

Immobile Rotator Cuff Tightening

At the start of the exercise stand straight and look forward. Gently keep shoulder in backward direction. Now bend your elbow at 900 angle and stretch your palm flat. Put another hand palm vertically, thumb should be in upward direction and give hard pressure against the flat palm. Hold the position for 5-10 second. Do this under the guidance of physiotherapist.

Surgery for Shoulder Subluxation

In case of chronic shoulder subluxation, patient is having severe pain and frequent incidence hampered the quality of life of the patient. In that case surgery is only option to repair the surrounding degenerative tissues.

Arthroscopic procedure

In this procedure the surgeon insert a invasive device which is attached to a camera through a small incision in the shoulder joint and locate the affected site by monitoring the display on a screen and another instrument inserted at the degenerative site and repair the tissue.

Open surgical procedure

In some cases open surgery is recommended which need large incision for repairing the affected tissue.



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