Do I Need Physio After Dislocating My Shoulder?

The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the entire human body. One of the reasons for this mobility is the anatomy of the shoulder joint – a ball (humeral head) joining with a shallow socket (glenoid).  It is a little bit like a golf ball sitting on a tee. While this structure allows for the great degree of shoulder movement we get, it also makes the shoulder a very unstable joint and has a super high risk of dislocating.

What actually happens when you dislocate your shoulder?

The shoulder is passively stabilised by lots of ligaments, the joint capsule and the labrum (cartilage). The shoulder is actively stabilized by muscles surrounding the joint, such as the rotator cuff which act to keep the ball centralised in the socket. 

When the shoulder joint is dislocated, the ball is forced out from the socket it is sitting on (as if the golf ball has fallen off the tee). 

All the structures above that provide stability to the shoulder joint are disrupted. It is damage to these structures, especially to the labrum, that lead to an increased risk of future dislocation. In addition to damage to the labrum and ligaments, there can be damage to the bone as well as other surrounding soft tissue and muscles. 


Unfortunately, once one dislocation has occurred, the likelihood of re-dislocating your shoulder is extremely high. This is why seeing a Physio is so important!”


Keep reading to find out why!

How can Physio help?

While only surgery can improve the passive stability of the shoulder if there has been labral or ligament damage, Physiotherapy can assist with improving the active stability of the shoulder.  This is done by strengthening up the muscles around the shoulder to compensate for the loss of passive stability caused by structural damage. 

A carefully planned and gradually progressed shoulder rehabilitation program can have very positive effects in strengthening and stabilizing the shoulder and enabling the patient to return to normal function and activity.  

Physiotherapy is very effective at managing a shoulder that has only dislocated once, or has only subluxed (partially dislocated). Additionally, if structural damage has occurred but an athlete wants to wait until the end of the season for surgical management, a Physiotherapist can assist with rehabilitation and techniques so that the season can be completed and surgery delayed.

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What will happen when you see a Physio?

  • If you are unsure whether or not you need surgery following a shoulder dislocation, a Physio can give you a thorough assessment to determine if further investigation is required or if Physio management alone will be sufficient
  • Physios are great to see if you have dislocated or have a history of shoulder dislocations to help you come up with a management plan and how to reduce your risk of ongoing issues 
  • If you have already had shoulder stabilisation surgery, Physiotherapy is essential in building up your strength back to being able to play competitive sport and return to full function
  • We will give you homework to do! But we will make it fun, we promise. We need to build muscle strength back up around the shoulder in order to stabilise the joint. But trust us, it works! 

Our team at FNQ Health Co. are experienced in the management of shoulder dislocations.  If you have had a shoulder dislocation and would like some assistance in management and rehabilitation, please contact us or book online.

If you have any further questions feel free to contact us here at FNQ Health Co. and we can help guide you to determine the best course of management for your shoulder!

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