A young woman presents to the emergency department with a dislocated shoulder. She had first dislocated that shoulder a year ago playing rugby. Today she was brushing her hair when the shoulder “went out.” What are the most common neurologic deficits with anterior shoulder dislocation? Are x-ray films required before reducing this shoulder? What are the quickest and easiest ways to reduce a dislocated shoulder?
The shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint; dislocated shoulders have been described in medical writings for more than 3000 years. Hippocrates wrote that shoulder dislocation should be reduced immediately or as soon as possible. This is held to be true for dislocations today. Most (90% to 97%) shoulder dislocations are anterior, and in most anterior dislocations, the humeral head assumes a subcoracoid position. Subglenoid, infraclavicular, and intrathoracic dislocations are uncommon variants of anterior dislocation.1,2