Separated and Dislocated Shoulder

Injury to your shoulder including a fall, hit, or twist can result in a separated or dislocated shoulder. During a shoulder dislocation, there can be damage to tendons, ligaments, or soft cartilage. You may also sustain a fracture, most commonly in the front of the shoulder.

Intense pain, especially when moving the affected arm, is a common symptom. Depending on the injury and severity, you may also notice a bump on the front or back of the shoulder where the bone has become dislocated, swelling, or bruising.

This injury is a common sports injury typical with football, hockey, volleyball, and rock climbing. You don’t need to be an athlete to experience separated or dislocated shoulder. Those prone to falling are also at a high risk.

Our team at Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster, are experts at diagnosing and treating shoulder conditions. Learn more about symptoms and treatment options below.


  • Pain at the top of the shoulder on the affected side
  • Painful when the top of the shoulder is touched
  • Pain when attempting to use the affected arm
  • A bump on the front or back of the shoulder where the AC joint is located


  • Severe fall or hit directly onto the shoulder
  • Attempting to stop a fall using the hand
  • A sharp twist of the arm
  • Sports injuries such as with football, hockey, volleyball, and rock climbing

Risk Factors

  • Participating in sports such as football, hockey, volleyball, and rock climbing
  • Balance issues or other conditions that may make you more prone to falling


  • Physical examination of the shoulder and surrounding area
  • X-ray to evaluate the bones.
  • MRI or CT scan may be used if further evaluation is necessary

Treatment Options

  • RICE therapy: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief
  • Immobilization using a sling
  • Physical therapy
  • Reduction of shoulder or realigning the joint, in most cases this is a nonsurgical procedure
  • If ligaments, tendons, or labrum are torn surgical repair may be recommended to prevent repeat dislocations