According to the Mayo Clinic, the shoulder is the body’s most mobile joint and thus lends itself to dislocation, in which the end of the upper arm bone (otherwise known as the ball of the humerus) pops from the shoulder socket (the cup-shaped part of the shoulder blade, or scapula). Though an extremely common injury, a dislocated shoulder will often fully heal – with a proper course of dislocated shoulder rehab – in a matter of months.

dislocated shoulder x-rayDislocated shoulder rehab can be approached in a number of ways, but the most important thing to remember is that if you suspect you’ve dislocated your shoulder, you must stop your activity immediately. The sooner the dislocated shoulder rehab begins, the more successful the healing process becomes. So, make an appointment right away to see a trusted medical practitioner, who will examine the shoulder in order to decide whether the bone is dislocated. Then, the doctor or therapist will ease the bone back into its socket – a process that’s referred to as ‘reduction.’

In between your injury and your appointment, be sure to apply ice or a cold compact to the injury. Successful dislocated shoulder rehab starts here, and applying a cold compress will reduce short- and long-term swelling, easing pain and maintaining mobility. To protect your shoulder, incorporate the next component of dislocated shoulder rehab: fashion a sling to keep the arm stable, secure, and immobile. Or, consider purchasing a sling that combines compression and cold therapy: the PowerPlay Cold & Compression Shoulder Wrap, for example, is snug, secure, and easy to use.

In the days following reduction, you’ll continue your dislocated shoulder rehab by keeping the shoulder immobilized – this is easiest when you have a sturdy sling. Meanwhile, keep your wrists and fingers moving to maximize mobility, avoid stiffness, and maintain a healthy blood flow. During this time, some sufferers take anti-inflammatory medication.

After several weeks, the exercise component of dislocated shoulder rehab begins. Pendulum exercises, in which the sufferer rocks his or her body weight back and forth, will promote a gentle, circular movement in the shoulder. Easy-to-read pendulum exercise guides, as well as short videos, are available online, and will help to facilitate your dislocated shoulder rehab.

As the weeks progress, so will your dislocated shoulder rehab: strengthening exercises will restore muscle ability and range of motion in the shoulder. Medial rotation – in which the joint is rotated internally – is especially encouraged, and a wealth of information and instructions can be found online. As dislocated shoulder rehab continues, the sling will no longer be necessary. Instead, the ultimate goal is to bring the injured shoulder to the same level of strength and mobility as the uninjured shoulder. Those undergoing dislocated shoulder rehab are encouraged to wait for eight to ten weeks before performing shoulder-centered activities like throwing and catching.

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