The Reality of Shoulder Dislocations in Children and TeensYou're young and carefree, and suddenly you're in a world of hurt. You've dislocated your shoulder. The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center say there's a 75 percent chance you'll do it again.
This study looks at children and teens between the ages of 11 and 18 years. The results of anterior (forward) shoulder dislocation are reported. In the short term, painful symptoms kept adolescents from work and play. In the long run, an unstable shoulder that dislocates more than once can damage the shoulder joint.
Sometimes it doesn't take much to dislocate a second time. Just reaching overhead or moving too quickly can do it. According to these authors, even patients who have surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder were at risk for another dislocation.
Researchers did find that a second dislocation is more likely after sports injuries. Even so, shoulder dislocations from sports injuries in this study had the same final outcome as other types of injuries. Motion and function for both groups weren't any different four years after the injury.
The authors of this study aren't sure why the results turned out the way they did. They think athletes may return to sports too soon after the first dislocation. Without good tissue healing, the shoulder dislocates again. Or perhaps the force of an athletic injury causes more tissue damage and easier dislocation afterwards.
It seems clear that, once damaged, a dislocated shoulder can easily pop out again in patients 18 years old or younger. Doctors caution that long-term results aren't always good. A full recovery of shoulder function may not happen even with treatment.
John Deitch, MD, et al. Traumatic Anterior Shoulder Dislocation in Adolescents. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. September/October 2003. Vol. 31. No. 5. Pp. 758-763.
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