Shoulder Dislocation Treatment

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 Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on November 27, 2015



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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