In the 2011 League final I dislocated my right shoulder by over reaching for a ball and landing on an outstretched arm. Have you dislocated your shoulder? I would have seen this movement a lot lately during the rugby world cup with players reaching over the line grounding the ball for a try. What happens is the ball slips out of the socket with the impact on the ground, resulting in a loss of power and function of the arm.

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint, held in place by four small muscles called the rotator cuff muscles. These help stabilise the shoulder as your bigger shoulder muscles (Deltoid, Lats, Pecs) move your arm freely in all directions. There are also 3 ligaments that help these rotator cuff muscles.

During subluxation of the joint, very often some or all of these ligaments are damaged quite often along with the rotator cuff muscles.

Symptoms of Dislocated Shoulder

A noticible gap at the top of your shoulder

Pins and needles into your hand

Lack of function in the arm

Initial numbness with the onset of severe pain after a few minutes

Often a shoulder can be easily poped back in by using some traction, but there is a risk of further injury doing this as there may be a fracture in the socket. Nowdays we generally send the player to hospital for and xray before we relocate the shpoulder.

Rehabilitaion of a shoulder will involve regaining

  • Full range of motion
  • Muscle activity
  • Stability
  • Strength
  • Game specific movememts (tackling)

With the shoulder one of the biggest issues for players returning is confidence in the shoulder. We often see players unintensionally protecting their shoulder or going into tackle with their unaffected side . In my case it took a full season of games to have full confidence in that shoulder post injury.