Child Shoulder Dislocation: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Posted by Tyler Weber on Friday, April 12, 2024
Keywords: Child Shoulder Dislocation

Childhood is a time for exploring the world and testing boundaries. An unfortunate side effect of this necessary exploration is injuries. Parents quickly become familiar with children's typical injuries at the playground, such as scraped elbows and knees and various bumps and bruises. However, some injuries can be more serious and require a visit to a medical provider.

What Is a Dislocation?

A dislocation occurs when bones are pushed out of their usual place. Any joint in your body can suffer a dislocation, and the severity can vary depending on what caused it and its location. The age and overall health of the individual affected.

What Causes a Dislocation?

One of the most common causes of dislocation is an impact injury playing sports. It can also be caused by a fall, a car accident, or other high-impact accidents. Dislocations push the bone(s) out of their usual place in the joint, making it difficult or impossible to use. 

It can also cause injury or strain to the surrounding tissues, such as muscles, nerves, tendons, and blood vessels. If you suspect a shoulder dislocation in a child, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately.

Toddler Dislocated Shoulder Symptoms

Toddlers don’t always have the language to communicate when something is wrong. Even if they can’t verbalize exactly what’s causing them distress, they’re likely to experience key symptoms that parents should be aware of, such as:

  • Extreme pain, though it can vary from child to child
  • Inability to move the arm
  • Numbness, weakness, or tingling around the neck or down the arm
  • Painful muscle spasms around the shoulder
  • A visibly deformed shoulder
  • Swelling or bruising

What To Do for Shoulder Dislocation in Child

If you believe your child has dislocated their shoulder, it’s essential to remain calm while seeking medical attention. While waiting for treatment, try to keep the child as calm as possible. Offer them their comfort toy or blanket if they have one, and reassure them that they’ll be alright. 

Avoid acting scared or panicking, as this can upset children and cause them to make the injury worse accidentally. Here are a few simple guidelines to follow: 

DO:

  • Gently hold an ice pack to the shoulder for up to 20 minutes every 2-3 hours
  • Use a sling or towel to support the affected arm
  • Take Tylenol for the pain at the recommended dosage based on your child’s weight

DON’T:

  • Avoid moving the affected arm as much as possible
  • Never attempt to pop or move it back into place

How Is A Shoulder Dislocation Diagnosed?

Healthcare providers will typically inspect the affected area for swelling, pain, and/or deformity. They’ll also check for signs of nerve or blood vessel injury. An X-ray of the shoulder joint is often used to confirm the dislocation and check for broken bones or other damage to the shoulder joint.

How Long Does It Take for a Dislocated Shoulder To Heal In Children?

The time it takes for an injury of this nature to heal depends on its severity and whether other damage occurred to the joint. In most cases, it can take up to 16 weeks to heal after it’s been put back into place.

At-Home Care for a Dislocated Shoulder

After you’ve been assessed and treated by a physician, you’ll likely be given a brace or sling to help support and immobilize the affected arm. You’ll also be given some at-home care tips, which often include doing things like:

  • Apply ice to the shoulder for 20 minutes every 3-4 hours.
  • Use over-the-counter pain relievers as recommended.
  • Use the sling or brace for 1-2 weeks. Avoid reaching above the head during this time.
  • Perform regular elbow, wrist, and finger exercises on the injured arm to stop them from becoming stiff.

Can I Visit The Urgency Room for a Shoulder Dislocation?

The Urgency Room is fully equipped to diagnose and treat a shoulder dislocation. We have shorter wait times than an emergency room and have a CT scanner and X-ray machines capable of confirming the diagnosis. 

You can make an appointment at any of our locations. Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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