The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the human body, allowing for a large range of movement. One of the reasons for this mobility is the anatomy of the shoulder joint – a ball (humeral head) joining with a shallow socket (glenoid). While this structure allows for the great degree of shoulder movement we get, it also makes the shoulder an inherently unstable joint meaning that the risk of shoulder dislocation is relatively high in comparison to other joints.
What happens when your shoulder joint is dislocated?
The shoulder joint is made more stable by the presence of the glenoid labrum, which acts to suck the ball into the socket as well as deepening the socket. The joint is also stabilised by the glenohumeral ligaments - both the labrum and ligaments account for the passive stability of the shoulder joint. The shoulder is actively stabilized by muscles surrounding the joint, such as the rotator cuff which act to keep the humeral head centralized in the socket. When the shoulder joint is dislocated, there will be disruption to the structures that are providing stability and trying to prevent dislocation. 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 due to the humeral head pushing against the socket.
How can Physiotherapy 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 surrounding 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 over time. 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.
What can possibly happen when you see a Physiotherapist?
If you are unsure whether or not you need surgery following a shoulder dislocation, a physiotherapist can give you a thorough assessment to determine if further investigation is required or if physiotherapy management alone will be sufficient. This makes a physiotherapist a great person to see if you have dislocated or have a history of shoulder dislocations to help come up with a management plan. If you have already had shoulder stabilisation surgery, physiotherapy is essential in building up your strength back to being able to play competitive sport.
Our physiotherapists at Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy are all highly 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 Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy and we can help guide you to determine the best massage treatment for you.
Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy
Melbourne Sports Physio has a range of qualified and experienced professionals who can help provide ongoing support and treatment. Our friendly team are located in across Melbourne in Essendon, North Melbourne and Blackburn South, and appointments can be made by calling or booking online.