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Stabilisation of recurrent dislocation (shoulder)

If you are considering recurring shoulder dislocation surgery, or have an operation planned, it is important to know all you can about it. This includes:


  • why you need this operation


  • what it will be like

  • how it will affect you

  • what risks are involved

  • any alternatives.


The information here is a guide to common medical practice. Each hospital and doctor will have slightly different ways of doing things, so you should follow their guidance where it is different from the information given here. Because all patients, conditions and treatments vary it cannot cover everything. Use this information when making your choices of recurring shoulder dislocation surgery with your doctors. You should mention any worries you have. Remember that you can ask for more information at any time.


What is the problem?

Your shoulder joint has dislocated several times. You probably feel that it is likely to do so again at any time.


What is the shoulder joint?

The shoulder joint comprises the ball on the upper end of your upper arm bone (humerus) and the socket on the shoulder blade. Unlike the hip joint, the socket is quite shallow and the ball is held in place by the soft tissues around the joint.


If you fall on your arm, it is possible for the ball of the humerus to pop out of the socket (dislocate). The ball usually dislocates forwards from the socket.

Shoulder 2

What has gone wrong?

When you first dislocated your shoulder you damaged the soft tissues that normally keep the ball in the socket.


Either the tissues were pulled off the bone at the front edge of the socket or the tissues were stretched and are now loose.


The aims

The aim is to stop your shoulder dislocating. The tissues that hold the joint in place will either be reattached or tightened.


The benefits

Obviously, the main benefit is that your shoulder will not dislocate with ease. This will get rid of the feeling that it will dislocate when you put your arm into certain positions.


Are there any alternative treatments?

If your shoulder has dislocated several times, there is no satisfactory alternative treatment.  Physiotherapy will not cure the problem.


What if you do nothing?  

Your shoulder will continue to dislocate with relative ease.


Who should have it done?

If your shoulder has dislocated several times and you have the feeling that it will dislocate again, you should have an operation.


Who should not have it done?

If you have never had a complete dislocation, but only a partial dislocation, then you will not benefit from this operation.  


Author: Mr Boyd Goldie MBBS FRCS BSC DHMSA. Consultant in orthopaedics & trauma.

© Dumas Ltd 2006

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