Our college-aged son dislocated his shoulder playing basketball. We are trying to figure out if he needs surgery or not. The staff at the local clinic say he can wear a sling for eight weeks and come out alright in the end. Is this sound advice?
Studies show that immobilizing the arm after a primary (first) shoulder dislocation doesn’t change what happens in the long-run. Even applying the sling several weeks after the dislocation first occurred doesn’t seem to change what will happen a year or even more than a year later.
Over half of all shoulder dislocations stabilize and recover well. In fact, according to a study over a period of 25 years, many patients with a shoulder dislocation couldn’t even remember which arm was dislocated.
Some experts have advised immediate surgery for anyone with a shoulder dislocation who is an athlete, especially throwing athletes. Results of the long-term study just mentioned did not agree with this counsel. According to their data, athletic activity was not linked with recurrent shoulder dislocation.
A trial period of immobilization followed by a rehab program is considered a good first step following shoulder dislocation. Even if surgery is eventually needed, the strengthening program will prepare the shoulder for a better result after surgical reconstruction takes place.
For more information on this subject, call The Zehr Center for Orthopaedics at 239-596-0100 or visit www.zehrcenter.com. The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of a visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.