Shoulder Dislocation Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Tyler Wheeler, MD on January 26, 2020

Call 911 if:

  • The injury was caused by a severe blow.
  • The person's pulse is weak or the arm and hand are numb, cold, pale, or blue.

1. Go to a Hospital Emergency Room

2. Immobilize Shoulder

  • Do not force arm to move.
  • Place pillow or rolled blanket between upper arm and chest.
  • Wrap towel around the person's upper body to bind arm to it.
  • Otherwise, if comfortable to do so, put the affected forearm in a sling with elbow at 90° angle.

3. Control Swelling

  • Apply ice pack for 20 minutes 4 to 8 times a day. Do not place ice directly against the skin.

4. Follow Up

  • The doctor may manipulate the shoulder to put it back in place.
  • The doctor may recommend wearing a sling for several weeks.
WebMD Medical Reference



Quillen, D. American Family Physician, November 14, 2004.

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine: "Traumatic Shoulder Dislocation."

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: "Sports Injuries."

Subbarao, I. AMA Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care, Random House Reference, 2009.

Shoulder Dislocation Information from eMedicineHealth.

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