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When is shoulder dislocation treated without surgery?

Shoulder dislocation could occur due to various reasons, such as overuse, sudden pull or a traumatic incident. 

When is shoulder dislocation treated without surgery?

Not every surgeon thinks about surgery as the first choice of treatment for shoulder dislocation. They will observe the structure of the shoulder after the dislocation. There are a few conditions for when the shoulder dislocation is treated without surgery:

Despite the injury, the anatomical structure of the shoulder should be the same.

  • No harm must be done to the ligaments or other soft tissues. They should be intact.
  • This should be the first shoulder dislocation.
  • There is no prior history of dislocations, which is usually the case with professional athletes.

The most commonly used non-surgical treatment of shoulder dislocation is applying ice, immobilization, and anti-inflammatory medicines to relieve pain and swelling. After reducing pain and swelling, the patient will regain their movement and shoulder strength by working closely with physical therapy specialists. The time it takes for full recovery depends on the severity of the injury, but most people recover within weeks or months.

What is closed reduction?

The first attempt by any shoulder surgeon would be to try closed reduction and reconnect the joint in the hospital emergency room. The doctor will put the round end of the arm bone, or humerus, back into place without surgery. Local anaesthesia is administered to ease pain, followed by manual repositioning of the humerus into the shoulder socket.

Once the dislocated shoulder goes back into its position, the pain lessens almost immediately. After this 30-minute procedure, the patient can return home within an hour.

If the patient has a history of shoulder dislocations, the soft tissues, which are the stabilizers of the shoulder, may no longer hold the humerus firmly in the socket. To assess the condition of the soft tissue, diagnostic tests, such as MRI scans, are done. If the soft tissues are no longer holding the joint stably, the doctors may consider surgery to tighten or repair the torn or stretched ligaments.

What are the methods of treatment when a shoulder dislocation is treated without surgery?

Rest and Icing

A dislocated shoulder that has been put back into place will be swollen and painful for many days. One has to give plenty of rest followed by application of ice. For the first couple of days, apply the ice pack three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and ease pain. Continue applying the ice based on the swelling reduction rate.


The affected muscles and other soft tissues must rest and heal. Hence, the shoulder is placed in a sling and immobilized for four to six weeks.

Pain Relief Medication

For a month or so, the patient will experience a dull, aching pain in the joint. There is discomfort also due to Inflammation in the soft tissues surrounding the injury. Doctors will recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for pain reduction.

Physical Therapy

Due to prolonged immobilization, the muscles weaken and lose flexibility. Physical therapy plays a crucial role in rebuilding muscle, improving stability in the shoulder, and preventing further injury.

At Hyderabad Shoulder Clinic, we have highly trained physical therapists who specialize in shoulder dislocation rehabilitation. We create a recovery plan based on your daily routine, the type of injury that occurred, and your physical goals.

A six-week physical therapy is the standard treatment plan for a shoulder dislocation. The complete recovery time is based on a person’s age, overall health, history of previous dislocations, and the severity of a dislocation.

The most recommended exercises are stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles surrounding the shoulder, including those in the arm and upper back. If these muscles are weak, then all the pressure falls on the joint during movement. Strong shoulder muscles are an internal “brace” for the shoulder joint.

Regular practice of physical therapy increases flexibility and restores range of motion. The patient can do simple exercises to make the arm movements easier and alleviate pain. Strong muscles can prevent future shoulder dislocations.

Other therapies

To get relief, please try oil therapy, massage therapy, heat and ice therapies, and acupuncture. Eat a healthy diet and sleep well. These will help in the healing and betterment of the shoulder.

The bottom line about “When is a shoulder dislocation treated without surgery?”

We at Hyderabad Shoulder Clinic assess the shoulder situation before opting for surgery. We mostly try to treat non-surgically. We have helped many professional sports personnel in regaining their shoulder strength. For more information, please get in touch with +91 9959588389,

or visit our website 

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