What is the prognosis of shoulder dislocation?

Updated: Nov 29, 2018
  • Author: Sharon R Wilson, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Age is a major factor in the likelihood of sustaining a recurrent shoulder dislocation. [16]  Approximately 80-94% of patients younger than 20 years at the time of the initial dislocation have a recurrence. The major pathology in this age group is thought to be a Bankart lesion with associated inferior glenohumeral ligament injury.

Of patients younger than 40 years, 26-48% develop recurrent dislocation. The major pathology for this age group is thought to be disruption of the labral attachment of the glenohumeral ligaments. Dislocation recurs in only 0-10% of patients older than 40 years. Rotator cuff tear is the major pathology.

Minor trauma that results in a dislocation is associated with an 86% recurrence rate. Many orthopedic surgeons believe that more than one complete anterior dislocation justifies considering surgical repair.

There is general agreement that before being allowed to return to sports after anterior shoulder dislocation, athletes should be pain free and should demonstrate symmetric shoulder and bilateral scapular strength with functional range of motion. Usually, returning to play can occur 2-3 weeks after  dislocation; however, athletes with in-season shoulder injury who return to play during the season have demonstrated recurrence rates of 37-90%. [17]

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