APTA's Shoulder Dislocation Guide by Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS

Excel Physical Therapy’s Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS wrote the following Move Forward Guide for the APTA.  We’re sharing it with you here. Click here to see the original article on the APTA website.


Physical Therapist’s Guide to Shoulder Dislocation:


A joint dislocation is a separation of 2 bones where they meet at a joint. Joints may dislocate when a sudden impact causes the bones in the joint to shift out of place. Because the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body and has such a wide range of motion, it is more likely to dislocate than any other joint in the body. Dislocations are among the most common traumatic injuries affecting the shoulder.

A shoulder dislocation most often occurs during contact sports, but everyday accidents such as falls can also cause the joint to dislocate. Athletes, non-athletes, children, and adults can all dislocate their shoulders.

A dislocated shoulder usually requires the assistance of a health care professional to guide the joint back into place. After the joint is realigned, physical therapists direct the rehabilitation of your shoulder as you recover, and can help you prevent reinjury.

A shoulder dislocation requires immediate medical attention, especially if you have:

  • numbness in your arm or hand
  • discoloration of arm or hand
  • cold feelings in your arm

What is a Shoulder Dislocation?

The shoulder includes the clavicle (collar bone), scapula (shoulder blade), and humerus (upper-arm bone). The rounded top of the humerus and the cup-like end of the scapula fit together like a ball and socket. A shoulder dislocation can occur with an injury such as when you “fall the wrong way” on your shoulder or outstretched arm, forcing the shoulder beyond its normal range of movement and causing the humerus to come out of the socket. A dislocation can result in damage to many parts of the shoulder, including the bones, the ligaments, the labrum (the ring of cartilage that surrounds the socket), and the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Dislocation-Small

Shoulder Dislocation: See More Detail

Musicians Take Note: Physical Therapy!

By Jason Lunden, DPT, SCS

Musicians take note… 

I recently had a patient come in who had developed shoulder and neck pain while playing the fiddle, one of his true passions in life. In addition to correcting his posture and strength deficits through physical therapy, he had a violin fitting.

The combination of physical therapy and getting fit greatly improved his symptoms with playing and he is now back to performing.  He had his fitting in Billings with Carmen Galt at Galt String Gallery, 406-259-3476, and states “it was the best $60 I ever spent on violin-related expenses!”

Jason Lunden DPT, SCS
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy
Excel Physical Therapy
406.556.0562 Bozeman
406.284.4262 Manhattan

Ask Our PT -Why Does My Shoulder Hurt?

By Tiffany Coletta

Question: Lately my shoulder has been getting sore at the end of my workday.  It seems to be worse when I am reaching overhead especially if I maintain my arms overhead for long periods of time during my workday.  I haven’t injured my shoulder that I can think of.  The pain more or less came out of nowhere.  Why does my shoulder hurt?


Answer:  You may be dealing with a case of shoulder impingement.  Often times in the shoulder, we have muscle imbalance between the larger muscles (deltoid, upper trapezius, etc.) and the smaller muscles on the rotator cuff.  When the rotator cuff gets weak, resulting in this muscle imbalance, the mechanics of the shoulder joint become impaired.  This can result in the rotator cuff muscles and tendons being irritated by rubbing against one of the bones which forms the shoulder joint.  This imbalance is most noticeable when your arms are over your head due to the forces necessary to maintain this position. 

A course of Physical Therapy to strengthen the rotator cuff and improve your shoulder mechanics can be very helpful.  Additionally, job and posture modification may be necessary in the short term to reduce the stresses on these tendons.  Icing the shoulder for periods of 15 minutes after heavy use can also improve the situation.  Thank you for the question!

Jeff Moore, DPT, MTC

Physical Therapist

"Jason, Thank you for helping me with my Bike Fit! I am happy to report that I have done several long rides - and I'm PAIN FREE!...I am ecstatic!" --Bozeman patient

View more testimonials from Excel PT clients »