Which physical findings are characteristic of posterior shoulder dislocation?

Updated: Nov 29, 2018
  • Author: Sharon R Wilson, MD; Chief Editor: Trevor John Mills, MD, MPH  more...
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Posterior shoulder dislocation (3% of ED shoulder dislocations):

  • Arm is held in adduction and internal rotation.

  • Anterior shoulder is "squared off" and flat with prominent coracoid process. Shoulders may look identical in bilateral dislocation, making it a commonly missed injury.

  • Posterior shoulder is full with humeral head palpable beneath the acromion process.

  • Patient resists external rotation and abduction.

  • Neurovascular deficits are infrequent.

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