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Anterior shoulder dislocation

Published: June 29, 2021

Author: Neil Patel


If you have had a shoulder dislocation, you may have experienced a reduced range of motion and discomfort with movement. You will regain the range of motion within a few weeks. However, due to the damage to your joint, you are prone to repeated dislocations. Proper medical attention and rehabilitation are essential.


Essential Anatomy

The shoulder joint is composed of 3 bones: Humerus, Scapula and Clavicle.

Overall, the stability between these 3 bones is achieved through passive and active structures in your shoulder. The passive constraints include joint conformity and ligaments, including the labrum. Regarding anterior dislocation – the inferior glenohumeral ligament is the primary passive stabiliser, specifically when the arm is abducted and externally rotated. The active constraints important to anterior dislocations include the Long head of biceps, rotator cuffs and scapular muscles.


The Condition

Anterior dislocation Is the most common dislocation and accounts for 97% of recurrent dislocations. It is commonly caused by the arm being excessively pushed into abduction and external rotation, resulting from trauma. But can also occur when there is passive or active constraint deficit or imbalance. The typical symptoms include pain and a restricted range of motion.

Anterior dislocation can be present in young adults with high impact injuries or older adults with an isolated incidence of non-traumatic dislocation. A shoulder dislocation carries a risk of bone injury, vascular and neural injuries or muscle tears. So proper medical attention is immediately advised.


  The Treatment


-        This is an important step performed by medical specialists to return the shoulder joint back into its position. It is strongly advised to seek medical assistance for this process to avoid further complications or injuries.

Medical Opinion

-        Following the Reduction, it is medically recommended to get imaging for your shoulder to evaluate the extent of damage during this event. The Doctor may advise conservative (physiotherapy) or non-conservative (surgery followed by physiotherapy) treatment depending on your presenting condition.


-        It is highly recommended that you seek professional assistance with your rehabilitation. An assessment of your condition and current function is important in planning and detailing your recovery.


In the meantime, try these exercises to aid in your rehabilitation process.


Mobility is your ability to move the joint to sustain optimal function. Following any injury to the joint, the muscles around the joint can adapt an antalgic (pain-avoidance) pattern. Leading to unnatural posture or position for that joint - leading to further issues. Hence it is important to retain mobility following any injury. 

Pectoralis Major Release

Using a massage ball, place the ball between the wall and your chest muscle. Apply adequate pressure and hold, repeat. Dosage: 15-second hold x 5, 3 times a day



Motor Control is essential following shoulder dislocation, which can lead to shoulder instability. Adequate motor control will help regain confidence, mobility and prevent further dislocation/instability. 

Band Pull Apart

Standing with shoulders raised to 90 degrees in front of you and a band in your hands. Pull the band apart keeping your elbows straight, and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold, repeat. Dosage: 5-second hold x 10, 3 times a day



Following a shoulder dislocation, shoulder instability can lead to further issues if it is not addressed. Rotator cuff muscles are active stabilisers of the shoulder joint, and need to be strengthened to reduce instability. 

External Rotation

Standing with a band in the hand with a bent elbow. Now rotate your shoulder whilst the elbow remains firm against your waist. Hold at the end of the motion, and repeat. Dosage: 5-second hold x 10, 3 times a day


It is very important that you seek proper medical attention following a dislocation. If you have suffered a shoulder dislocation or are at risk of dislocation, click here to book in and start feeling confident with your movements and health.