Dislocated shoulders can lead to severe shoulder pain, and are typically the result of a traumatic event, such as a heavy fall, sports injury, or motor vehicle accident. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) becomes separated from the glenoid fossa. The glenoid fossa is lined with cartilage and is responsible for the 180-degree range of movement in the shoulder joint. When this separation happens, it is both painful and difficult to move one’s arm, and it must be put back into place.
Exercises to Reduce Shoulder Pain
A shoulder dislocation requires the special attention of a medical professional or physiotherapist because relocating a shoulder runs the risk of compressing nerves and arteries of the shoulder joint which can lead to paralysis of the entire upper limb. Once a shoulder has been successfully relocated, the arm should rest in a broad-arm sling for an estimated two weeks. A physiotherapist will then clear you first of any structural or nerve damage before you begin dislocated shoulder exercises in the following stages of rehabilitation:
Stage 1: Passive Exercises
Pendulum Exercise: Stand over a table or bench with feet staggered, hip-width apart. Support your body by placing your un-injured on the bench, as your injured arm hangs freely. Try not to strain and let it hang heavy. Gently sway back and forth using your hips, allowing the arm to gently swing alongside the body. Do this for 60 seconds then rest. Complete 3 sets.
Do this same exercise for 60 seconds with hips moving side to side this time. Rest then repeat 2 more times.
Stage 2: Active-Assisted Exercises
Flexion: Stand up tall and hold on to a pole, walking stick, or broom handle. Use your uninjured arm for strength as you slowly lift hands to an overhead position. Do not go past the point of pain. Do 4 sets of 15 reps, each morning, afternoon, and night.
Abduction: With the same prop, place the center of the palm on one end of it. With the strength of your good arm push your injured arm out to the side of your midline. Go as far as you feel sensation but not pain. Do 4 sets of 15 reps, each morning, afternoon, and night.
Stage 3: Active Exercises
Flexion: Stand tall with palms facing each other, elbows at your side. Lift both arms forward, reaching as high as you can until you feel pain. Slowly lower the arms then repeat. Complete 4 sets of 15 reps, each morning, afternoon, and night.
Abduction: Start standing with palms facing out, elbows pointed down. Slowly lift both arms up as far as you can toward the ears, keeping the elbows tucked in. Complete 4 sets of 15 reps, each morning, afternoon, and night.
Stage 4: Strengthening Exercises
Upper trapezius shrugs: Begin with feet hip-width apart, arms straight, elbows slightly away from hips. Raise arms slightly away from hips, palms facing forward. Shrug shoulders and pause at the top for 2 seconds. Take 2 counts to lower down then repeat. Complete 3 sets of 20 reps, incorporating a small hand weight if it feels too easy.
Rotator cuff: Stand and bend the elbow of the injured arm to 90°. Hold a light resistance band and bring hand and wrist away from the midline to 45°. Slowly come back to midline. Complete 4 sets of 10 reps with one-minute rests in-between.
Stage 5: High-Level Rehabilitation
After receiving individualized instruction from your physiotherapist, this stage generally involves returning to the previous, full range of motion gym exercises.