What’s The Difference Between Shoulder Dislocation and Shoulder Separation?
I hear people refer to shoulder separations and shoulder dislocations as the same thing quite often, and while I understand the confusion, I thought I'd take some time today to identify the difference between the two injuries.
What is a Shoulder Dislocation?
Shoulder Dislocations are when the ball pops out of the socket. 90% of the time the ball comes out the front of the shoulder and only 10% of the time does it come out the back.
Usually this happens when we have the arm out overhead and behind the body, much like the cocking phase of throwing. In this position a forceful external force pushing the lower arm even more rotated will cause the shoulder to lever out of the socket.
Aging and Ongoing Risk Factors
The risk of dislocating the shoulder a second time is related to
the age of the athlete when he/she first dislocates
the activities they like to participate in.
Once a shoulder dislocates a second time, it gets easier and easier for it to pop out again in the future and usually needs to be fixed surgically.
What is a Shoulder Separation?
Shoulder Separations, on the other hand, have nothing to do with the ball and socket joint.
The point where the clavicle comes into the end of the scapula, called the acromion, gets “separated” by tearing the ligaments attaching these two.
Typically these do not require surgery, but may, depending upon the degree of separation.
Hope that helps! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to email me. Stay out there, stay active, and take care of those shoulders!