Shoulder Dislocation in Children

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The shoulder

The shoulder is the most versatile joint in the body, moving in many different directions. A sudden force to the shoulder, as from a collision, for example, can cause the top of the upper arm bone (humerus) to pop out of the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula).

Shoulder dislocations are common for athletes in contact sports or sports that can involve lots of falling, such as gymnastics. Shoulder dislocations are also common to other accidents, such as car crashes and falls. 

Anatomy of the Shoulder

Once a shoulder is dislocated, it will be prone to further dislocations. Severe damage to the nerves, blood vessels, tendons and/or ligaments may require surgical repair.

Parts of the shoulder


•   the ball on top of the upper arm bone (humerus) 
•   the socket (glenoid) of the shoulder blade (scapula)
    in which the ball of the humerus fits 
•   a rim of cartilage in the scapula (labrum) to make
    the glenoid a little deeper 
•   surrounding ligaments (joint capsule)
•   surrounding muscles and tendons spanning from
    the scapula to the humerus (rotator cuff) to stabilize
    the upper arm bone and hold it tightly into the glenoid

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches shoulder dislocation

Because a dislocated shoulder is at risk for dislocating again, Boston Children's will help your child strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint to help prevent future injuries. And if your child's shoulder is hurt too badly to be helped by conservative approaches, Boston Children's orthopedic team will help restore stability and range of motion to your child's shoulder.

You can have peace of mind knowing that the skilled experts in our Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program have treated thousands of babies and children with many arm conditions.  We provide expert diagnosis, treatment and care, and we benefit from our advanced clinical and scientific research.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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