Shoulder luxation - dislocation

A shoulder luxation is usually caused by a hard fall and is often accompanied by pain and an inability to move. The diagnosis of shoulder luxation can be made by means of X-ray examination. When the shoulder blade is dislocated, it is important that it is quickly put back into its original position. After having put back the shoulder, the rehabilitation process will follow under the supervision of a physical therapist. The physiotherapists of Fysiofitaal Tilburg will work with you towards a successful recovery!


The shoulder consists, among other things, of a head and a socket. Unlike, for example, the hip, the shoulder head is a lot bigger than the socket. This ensures that the joint can move freely, but it does come at the expense of stability. The labrum (a cartilage ring), the muscles and ligaments around the shoulder have the task to provide the necessary stability to keep the shoulder blade in its socket. This is usually caused by a hard fall with an outstretched arm. The forces that must be absorbed are then too great, causing the shoulder head to dislocate. This is usually the case in 95% of all cases. The shoulder blade then comes to sit in front of the socket. The labrum in the shoulder enlarges the socket somewhat, so that it still offers some protection. When your shoulder has really been dislocated, it is possible that, because of this, the labrum, together with the shoulder capsule, has also had a considerable blow.


A shoulder luxation is often accompanied by severe pain. Because of this it is hardly possible to move the shoulder. As a reflex, the shoulder muscles can tighten heavily in order to stabilize the shoulder as much as possible. Because the shoulder bones shift, a depression can be seen in the shoulder and sometimes the bones can be clearly felt in the front area of the shoulder.


If an acute shoulder luxation is suspected, the General Practitioner will ask for an X-ray. In this picture you can see to which side the shoulder has shifted and whether other structures have been damaged. For example, the labrum, capsule and tendon tissue.

If you have already experienced shoulder luxation in the past, we speak of chronic instability. You can be afraid that the shoulder will dislocate. If the shoulder regularly luxates, further examination can be done by means of an MRI-scan and an X-ray. The physiotherapists of Fysiofitaal Tilburg can determine whether there is any instability in the shoulder joint by means of a so-called pathology-specific test.

Chronic instability

Chronic instability can have different causes, including hypermobility (more mobility in the joints than normal). Hypermobility can cause more mobility in the ligaments and joints, which means that less stability is given to the shoulder blade. Therefore, this can cause a luxation to occur more quickly because the shoulder head has more room to move.

The physiotherapists at Fysiofitaal Tilburg can determine whether hypermobility is present by means of a cluster of physical tests.

Chronic instability can also develop because the shoulder regularly dislocates. If this is the case, it is sometimes necessary to have an operation in order to stabilize the shoulder head by tightening certain ligaments in the shoulder.


If you have an acute shoulder luxation, it is important that the shoulder head is first placed back in its original position (repositioning). Depending on the situation, the use of muscle relaxants and/or painkillers can be chosen. After the shoulder replacement you will wear a sling for a period of two to four weeks, after which a rehabilitation trajectory can begin. During the rehabilitation it is important that the muscle strength and stability in the shoulder are increased in order to prevent a new luxation. It is hard to say in advance how long the rehabilitation will take. It depends on different factors. Physiotherapy is recommended for 4 to 12 weeks in case of uncomplicated luxations. An exercise programme under the supervision of a physiotherapist can also be helpful in the case of chronic instability. The physiotherapists at Fysiofitaal Tilburg offer you professional guidance during your rehabilitation and work with you towards a successful recovery!

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