Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I saw a physical therapist after dislocating my left shoulder. She put me through a complete program until I was ready to get back to work. She even did a special apprehension test to see if the shoulder was still unstable. Fortunately, everything seems to be in good working order. From start to finish, I was back on the job in eight weeks. How does that compare to other people?


Shoulder dislocations can be very complex and unforgiving when it comes to rehab and return-to-work. A simple, straightforward dislocation can be vastly different from a traumatic injury with soft tissue, cartilage, and capsular damage in and around the joint. For someone to complete a conservative (nonoperative) treatment program in eight weeks and get back on-the-job is pretty good. Most patients with clinically stable shoulders (i.e., who have a negative apprehension test) are able to resume full physical activity about three months after the injury. There is always a risk of recurrence after a traumatic dislocation. This may not happen at first while you are being cautious in how you use the arm. If the shoulder dislocates a second time, studies show this is most likely 10 to 17 months after the first injury. Age is a factor in second (recurrent) shoulder dislocations. Younger adults tend to have the highest rate of shoulder redislocations. Older (perhaps less active) adults have a lower risk of redislocation. Ori Safran, MD, et al. Accuracy of the Anterior Apprehension Test as a Predictor of Risk for Redislocation After a First Traumatic Shoulder Dislocation. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. May 2010. Vol. 38. No. 5. Pp. 972-975.

*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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