Indications of shoulder subluxation

Due to the ball and socket formation, the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. The mobility of this joint also makes it the most unstable. Take note that the shallow socket could not fully cover the ball of the upper arm bone, thus the shoulder depends on the soft tissues to secure it in place. Once the humerus thrusts out partially from the shoulder socket beyond the normal joint mobility, it is a subluxation.

Signs of shoulder subluxation

Popping sensation and slackness

Once shoulder subluxation is likely, the individual usually feels a popping sensation as the ball joint drives out of the socket and then bursts back in. Oftentimes, the popping can be perceivable. Individuals with subluxation claim that the affected shoulder feels as if it is slipping or the arms feel dead from time to time. In addition, some can feel the slackness or looseness in the shoulder. The individual is unwilling to raise his/her arm overhead fearing that the shoulder might pop out.

Pain, weakness and numbness

Shoulder subluxation

When an individual sustains shoulder subluxation, the pain is focused directly in the shoulder joint.

When an individual sustains shoulder subluxation, there is pain directly in the shoulder joint. The movements that instigate the pain are partially dependent on the type of subluxation. In most cases of shoulder subluxations, they are usually anterior in which the shoulder slips in a forward manner.

Throwing motions can worsen the pain of an anterior subluxation. The pain can lead to weakness since the individual avoids any uncomfortable motions. Take note that the shoulder will often feel numb and the tingling and numbness can radiate down the arm. You can learn more about pain management measures by enrolling in one of the first aid courses today.

Visual symptoms

There are visual symptoms that often go with subluxation of the shoulder. Both the bruising and inflammation are quite prevalent over the location where the injury was incurred. If associated to the fit shoulder, the affected shoulder often appears less rounded in shape.

During a sulcus test which is used to test for shoulder instability, it would reveal a positive result such as dimpling beneath the bony protuberance at the upper part of the shoulder or acromion.


In most cases of shoulder subluxation, they can heal well under a rehabilitation program and physiotherapy treatment. This usually takes weeks or even months for the individual to achieve the best outcome.

For recurrent shoulder subluxation that does not seem to respond to conservative treatment, the doctor performs surgical repair of the shoulder joint capsule to stabilize the shoulder. A rehabilitation program follows that spans for several months. As for individuals who sustained damage to other structures such as the bone, cartilage, tendons or nerves, it would require the individual to undergo an extended rehabilitation program in order to restore full functionality.


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