FAQs About Shoulder Subluxation?

Have you ever experienced accidentally falling with an outstretched arm? How about having done something that forced your arm to be in an awkward position? I have had encountered some accidents in the past that greatly hurt my arm, but thankfully, nothing serious came about. But I am just fortunate since there are people who suffered from serious consequences such as shoulder subluxation as a consequence of their accident.

Just like pain between shoulder blades, subluxation in the shoulder can be irritating, uncomfortable and painful. At times, it can disrupt your normal work routine. Many people confuse this condition with shoulder dislocation because of some similarities in their symptoms. But their main difference is that a dislocated shoulder completely comes out of the joint, while a shoulder that has subluxes only comes out partially and temporarily.

How does subluxation in the shoulder occur?

Different circumstances can lead to subluxation in the shoulder. These include falling with an outstretched arm, a direct blow to the shoulder, and forcing an arm into an uncomfortable and awkward position. If you have a naturally loose ligament in the shoulder, you are also more prone to this condition.

What are the symptoms of subluxation in the shoulder?

Various symptoms are manifested when a person is suffering from subluxation. Among them are weakness, numbness, pain and the feeling of looseness in the affected shoulder.

How is subluxation in the shoulder diagnosed?

It is hard to self-diagnose a case of subluxation. If you are suffering from any of its symptoms, visit your doctor who would perform physical tests to support proper diagnosis.

How is shoulder subluxation treated?

Initial treatments for subluxation include applying ice pack thrice daily for about 20 minutes each time until you notice signs of improvement in your condition. This should help reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain. Resting from activities that can put pressure on the shoulder is also recommended. To ensure this, you could wear a sling for a few days after developing subluxation, but do not make your shoulder completely immobile so as to avoid a condition called adhesive capsulitis or frozen shoulder. To reduce inflammation, over-the-counter pain relievers and NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen may also help.


After recovering from the pain and swelling or inflammation, the next phase of the treatment process involves doing exercises that can strengthen the rotator cuff. Your health care provider can design a more suitable exercise program for you to rehabilitate your shoulder.

For patients with a repeated case of subluxation, surgical intervention may be necessary to tighten the ligaments.

What is the prognosis for subluxation in the shoulder?

Patients have a good chance of recovery with non-surgical and conservative treatments as listed above. For patients needing surgery, recovery would take longer and would involve using a sling for several weeks to support the shoulder. But you should be able to return to your normal sport and physical activities within six months.

Subluxation in the shoulder may not be a serious condition but it requires your attention and general knowledge on what to do during the recovery period. If you have other concerns about this condition, you could learn more by consulting your health care provider.