I have had a shoulder dislocation, what should I do?

Sometimes people have shoulder dislocations that spontaneously reduce, or go back in place on their own, within a few minutes of dislocating. If you have a shoulder dislocation that doesn’t go back in place, you will have to report to an Emergency Department. In the Emergency Department, they typically give sedation and assist the reduction of the shoulder joint.

After the shoulder is back in place, you should arrange a follow up with an orthopedic surgeon.


Until you reach a doctor, you will want to do the following:

SLING –*** Need help with this – Wear a sling for one week? Wear a sling until seen by an orthopedic doctor? If this is not your first dislocation, wear a sling for two days, or until you feel more comfortable??

ICE – Ice is a very effective anti-inflammatory. You can ice your shoulder for 20 minutes every hour. Prevent ice burns by protecting your skin with a towel between your skin and the ice pack.

ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS ** DO NOT EVER ATTEMPT TO TAKE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS IF YOU HAVE A HISTORY OF ALLERGY TO ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATIONS OR ASPIRIN. DO NOT TAKE ANTI-INFLAMMATORY MEDICATION IF YOU ARE NOT SURE IF YOU HAVE AN ALLERGY TO THEM. **
Anti-inflammatory medications, also known as NSAIDs, include the over the counter medications ibuprofen (also sold as Motrin or Advil), naproxen (also sold as Aleve), and many different prescription medications. Anti-inflammatory medications are very useful after a recent injury in decreasing pain and inflammation. Tylenol (or acetaminophen) is not an anti-inflammatory; it may also help with pain, but will not help with inflammation.

Studies have shown that all anti-inflammatory medications carry a VERY MINIMALLY increased risk for heart attack in people with heart conditions. If you are concerned about this risk or have a heart condition, you should not take anti-inflammatory medication until speaking to a health care provider.