Dislocation of the shoulder

Who does this affect?

There are two main groups, young athletes, and older patients, often following a fall.


In young patients, the lining of the shoulder joint becomes torn. This is the Bankart lesion. It often does not heal correctly and becomes a weak spot, resulting in easier and easier dislocations. In older patients, it is more usual for the rotator cuff to tear, again, often making the shoulder weak.


Specific scans e.g. MRI or CT are sometimes used in younger patients. In older patients it is more likely that an MRI or ultrasound scan would be undertaken to assess the tear.

Non-surgical treatment

First-time young dislocators are treated with a special sling brace for 4-6 weeks followed by physiotherapy in order to reduce the incidence of further dislocations.

Surgical treatment

Should dislocation occur twice or more, surgery is then recommended to re-attach the torn lining. If there is a repairable tear to the cuff, then early surgery is recommended.

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