Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


My 18-year old son dislocated his shoulder in a bike accident over the weekend. The emergency room doctor put it back in. We were sent to an orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up appointment today. The doctor did a test that nearly dislocated the arm again. It was very painful for my son. Was this test really needed?


Bike accidents and sports collisions are common causes of shoulder dislocation. The most common position of the shoulder when dislocation occurs is out away from the body (abduction) and rotated outward (external rotation).

The doctor must test the shoulder for stability. It's important to see if the shoulder will dislocate again. This position is called the shoulder apprehension test. A positive test shows on the patient's face by pain and fear of another dislocation. The doctor may feel the head of the humerus slide forward during the test, too.

The apprehension test is an important part of the diagnosis and helps the doctor plan the best treatment. Does the patient need surgery? Or is a rehab program the best choice? It's better to know the extent of the damage from the first shoulder dislocation before a second one occurs.

Junji Ide, MD, PhD, et al. Arthroscopic Bankart Repair Using Suture Anchors in Athletes. Patient Selection and Postoperative Sports Activity. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. December 2004. Vol. 32. No. 8. Pp. 1899-1905.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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