Is a dislocated shoulder more painful than a break?

Answered by John Hunt

When it comes to comparing the pain of a dislocated shoulder versus a broken shoulder, it can be difficult to make a definitive statement as everyone’s pain tolerance and experience may vary. However, in general, a dislocated shoulder is often described as being more painful than a shoulder break.

A dislocated shoulder occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) pops out of its socket in the shoulder blade (scapula). This can happen due to a sudden impact or forceful movement, such as a fall or a sports injury. The intense pain associated with a dislocated shoulder is usually immediate and can be excruciating.

The pain from a dislocated shoulder is often described as a sharp, stabbing sensation that can radiate throughout the shoulder and down the arm. It can be accompanied by numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected shoulder or arm. The muscles surrounding the dislocated joint may also go into spasm, which can further increase the intensity of the pain.

On the other hand, a broken shoulder refers to a fracture in one or more of the bones that make up the shoulder joint, including the collarbone (clavicle), the shoulder blade (scapula), or the upper arm bone (humerus). While a broken shoulder can certainly be painful, the level of pain may be slightly less intense compared to a dislocation.

The pain from a broken shoulder is often described as a deep, throbbing ache that can be aggravated by movement or putting weight on the affected shoulder. However, the severity of the pain can vary depending on the location and extent of the fracture. Additionally, a broken shoulder may also cause swelling, bruising, and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint.

It’s important to note that both a dislocated shoulder and a broken shoulder require medical attention and should not be ignored. Prompt medical evaluation and treatment are necessary to properly realign a dislocated shoulder or to set and stabilize a broken shoulder.

While pain is subjective and can vary from person to person, a dislocated shoulder is generally considered to be more painful than a broken shoulder. The intense and immediate pain, along with potential numbness, tingling, and muscle spasms, experienced with a dislocation contribute to the perception of increased pain. However, it is crucial to seek medical attention for both injuries to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.