How is external rotation performed for the reduction of shoulder dislocation?

Updated: Aug 17, 2018
  • Author: Anantha K Mallia, DO, FACEP; Chief Editor: Erik D Schraga, MD  more...
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The patient is placed supine on a stretcher. The treating physician adducts the affected arm tightly to the patient’s side with one hand, then, with the other hand, grasps the patient’s wrist, bends the elbow to 90° of flexion, and gently rotates the upper arm externally, using the forearm as a lever, without force or traction (see the video below).

Reduction of shoulder dislocation: external rotation.

If the patient experiences pain, a short pause should be taken to allow the muscles of the upper arm to relax. After the pain has subsided, rotation continues until the forearm is in the coronal plane. Reduction typically takes place between 70° and 110° of external rotation; sometimes, it takes place during return on internal rotation. [7, 39]

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