Question:I dislocated both my shoulders in a motorcycle accident. I was surprised the emergency room doctor popped them both back in and that was it. Should I do anything to rehab?
Answer:It may be a good idea to make a follow-up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. The ER doctor most likely made this recommendation. Under the stress of the moment, patients don't always hear or remember what the ER doctor or nurse tells them.
Many emergency department staff will put younger patients (less than 20 years old) in a shoulder immobilizer (sling) for up to six weeks. The rate of recurrence (a second dislocation on the same side) is high in this age group. Other patients may be immoblized for a shorter period of time such as three to four weeks.
Healthy adults usually recover quickly after shoulder dislocation. No specific rehab is needed but may be helpful to prevent future problems. After an exam, your doctor will be able to advise you further about your case. Each patient may require something a little different based on how stable the joint is, how strong the muscles are, and how severe the dislocation was.Daniel R. O'Connor, MD, PC, et al. Painless Reduction of Acute Anterior Shoulder Dislocations Without Anesthesia. In Orthopedics. June 2006. Vol. 29. No. 6. Pp. 528-532.
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