Shoulder instability (dislocated shoulder) in Children

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As our understanding of instability of the shoulder joint has increased, so too has our expertise in treatment, including important advances in surgical techniques.

          – Donald S. Bae, MD, associate in Orthopedic Surgery, Boston
             Children's Hospital

A shoulder dislocation happens when too much force or pressure is applied to the ligaments connecting the arm to the shoulder, and the bones become separated. 

Anatomy of the shoulderImagine the shoulder and the top of the arm as a socket and ball—if too much force is applied, the ball can pop out of the socket, causing a dislocation. 

Although your child's shoulder may temporarily move back in place, you should always see a doctor if there has  been any dislocation (or a suspicion of one).

If your child follows the instructions given by the doctor, including stretching and strengthening exercises or physical therapy, the dislocation may not happen again. But some children (and adults) have recurrent dislocations due to underlying looseness (laxity) or injury to their ligaments.

How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches shoulder dislocations

The skilled experts in our Hand and Orthopedic Upper Extremity Program have treated thousands of children and teens with arm and hand problems that range from the simple to the highly complex. We can provide your child with expert evaluation, diagnosis, treatment and care—as well as the benefits of some of the most advanced clinical and scientific research in the world.

Our Orthopedic Center is nationally known as the preeminent center for the care of children and young adults with a wide range of developmental, congenital, neuromuscular, sports-related, traumatic and post-traumatic problems of the musculoskeletal system.

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
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337