Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ

Question:

My 14-year old son can pop his shoulder joints on both sides in and out. He says it doesn't hurt and it won't hurt him to do this. Should we discourage him from doing this maneuver? What should we tell him?

Answer:

The ability to sublux (partial dislocation) or fully dislocate the shoulder joint is possible for people with loose ligaments, a condition known as ligamentous laxity. Your son may have been born this way or he may have developed this condition over time with repetitive trauma. Swimmers and baseball players or volleyball players are affected most often.

It's best to avoid voluntarily popping the joint in and out. Over time the ligaments and other soft tissue structures holding the joint in place get stretched out. Pain can limit activities.

In rare cases, the individual may traumatically dislocate the shoulder. Surgery may be required if the joint capsule or the rim around the joint called the labrum are torn or ruptured.

Lara L. Devgan, et al. Posterior Dislocation in a Voluntary Subluxator: A Case Report. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. April 2006. Vol. 38. No. 4. Pp. 613-617.

*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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