Shoulder Dislocation Surgery Clinical Presentation

Updated: Feb 13, 2019
  • Author: Scott Welsh, MD; Chief Editor: S Ashfaq Hasan, MD  more...
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History and Physical Examination

Patients with anterior dislocations usually present with the arm in slight abduction and externally rotated. The humeral head can often be palpated in the front of the shoulder. Internal rotation and adduction are limited. Movement is usually very painful as a result of muscle spasms.

Patients with posterior dislocations present with the arm internally rotated and adducted. External rotation is severely limited. A posterior prominence is usually palpable, the anterior shoulder is flattened, and the coracoid process is more prominent. Historically, these dislocations have been missed or misdiagnosed as a frozen shoulder.

Inferior dislocations lead to a condition known as luxatio erecta, which describes a classic presentation of the arm abducted 110-160° with the forearm resting on or behind the patient's head. [12, 13]