You are currently viewing What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

Do you know that a shoulder dislocation symptoms resembles to that of an ordinary shoulder sprain or strain?

In this blog, we provide you what happens if a dislocated shoulder goes untreated. Go through this blog which is useful for you.

Shoulder Dislocation Overview

What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

A dislocated shoulder is a condition involving the humerus (the ball) being forcibly pulled from the shoulder joint (the socket). Dislocation of shoulder often occurs when doing activities involving violent or forcible pushing, throwing, lifting, and when falling onto a widely opened arm or when falling onto shoulder. Dislocation of shoulder, any joint for that matter, results in excruciating pain and restricted range of motion of the joint.

The shoulder, as is famously known, is a ball and socket joint, so in a shoulder dislocation, the ball (the humerus joint) is forcefully moved away from the socket (glenoid fossa of the shoulder). Dislocation usually occurs in the shoulders, knees, elbows, and sometimes finger bones.

Shoulder dislocation is a rather painful event, and symptoms include loss of movement, intense pain, and deformity. Usually, dislocation also results in ligament damage and possible tendon damage.

People who experience shoulder dislocations should exercise caution when performing activities involving shoulder joint, as the possibility of recurrent dislocations would be high.

It is very much recommended to consult a doctor if you believe that you have a shoulder dislocation who can render necessary treatment to fix the condition. Failure to get the necessary treatment in time may result in extensive damage to the shoulder.

What Happens If a Dislocated Shoulder is Left Untreated?

You may have difficulty in using the affected limb as efficiently as you did prior if not treated quickly, and the condition may become permanent. Shoulder dislocation hurts, as mentioned earlier, but can be repaired. The treatment shall depend on the extent of dislocation and the surrounding structures compressed by the dislocation. A delay in treatment may result in:

  • Interference with normal day-to-day activities
  • Nerve and blood vessel damage
  • Bursitis
  • Tendinitis
  • A tear of tendons or ligaments
  • Neck and upper back Pain
  • Multidirectional Instability

Interference With Normal Activities:

What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

If the dislocated shoulder is not treated, you can expect weakness, pain, and muscle spasms. Any movement involving the upper extremities and the shoulder joint especially is going to hurt a lot, and thereby interferes with your day-to-day activities.

The mobility of the shoulder while eating, bathing, sleeping, and the ability to lift heavy objects would become troublesome. The shoulder joint may also be very painful to touch. If the condition is left untreated, the pain may become permanent.

Injury to Nerves and Blood Vessels

What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

If a shoulder dislocation results in damage to the axillary artery (artery which passes through the arm and supplies blood to the arm), which is very rare and is seen in patients who are elderly, with age greater than 60 years , then occlusion or aneurysm of the artery resulting in ischemia or paralysis of the area can be seen. Dislocation of shoulder may also result in injuring the axillary nerve which originate from the level of armpits to the cervical spine levels C5 and C6. Axial nerve damage leads to loss of movement or sensation of the shoulder. Axillary artery and nerve damage as a result of shoulder dislocation is very rare.


What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

A bursa is a small fluid-filled sac containing synovial fluid, which helps reduce friction between bones and allow for free movement of the bones. Bursitis refers to inflammation of the bursa. Symptoms appear gradually, not immediately. The pain is located just outside the shoulder. Keeping your hand to the side or lifting it to 90 degrees usually causes pain.


What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

Neck and upper back Pain:

What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

Problems with the untreated dislocated shoulder joint can cause pain in associated nerves of the neck and upper back.

Multidirectional Instability:

In a patient with untreated shoulder dislocation, the shoulder may become unstable. The shoulder may feel loose or dislocated in various directions, meaning the ball can move forward, backward, or away from the shoulder. This is called multi-directional instability. These patients naturally have loose ligaments throughout the body.

A tear of Tendons or Ligaments:
What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

Treatment options for Shoulder Dislocation:

There are two treatment options for shoulder dislocation, namely:

  • Non-surgical
  • Surgical

Non-surgical treatment for Shoulder dislocation
What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

Fortunately, most cases of shoulder dislocation do not require surgery as an orthopedist can manually place the bone into the socket and may recommend placing the affected area bound in a shoulder sling for the next few weeks. Icing the affected area, lots of rest, and, in some cases, analgesics are an important part of full recovery.

Surgery for Shoulder dislocation
What Happens If A Dislocated Shoulder Goes Untreated?

If you have been diagnosed with chronic shoulder dislocation or if you have experienced recurrent shoulder dislocation due to your physical activity, you may need surgery. Now-a-days, shoulder surgery is being performed in the outpatient setting by using arthroscopy method, although full recovery often requires physical therapy and a long rehabilitation process.


Shoulder dislocation is a very painful condition, resulting from forceful upper extremity activities or from accidents. The pain associated with dislocation may be similar to a shoulder sprain, but a distinctive snap is heard when the shoulder is dislocated. Many people mistakenly take a shoulder dislocation to a shoulder sprain or strain and take over the counter pills and topical creams, hoping to get better. If the pain does not subside even after application of medications, a orthopedician should be consulted to get proper diagnosis and treatment.

An untreated shoulder dislocation, as discussed above, can damage the surrounding structures, restrict movement of the shoulder, and cause excruciating pain even when at rest thereby affecting your normal day-to-day activities. Shoulder is a very important joint that facilitates us in doing a majority of our daily activities and care should be exercised when doing any forceful or weightlifting activities with it.

So, we hope you have a general understanding of a shoulder dislocation after going through a blog. If you experience a shoulder dislocation or if you are an individual with a recurrent shoulder dislocation condition, then we you to immediately consult our experienced, resourceful and knowledgeable orthopedicians of our Dr Chandra Sekhar by scheduling an appointment.

Leave a Reply