A dislocated shoulder in an infant is possible after a fall or sustaining a direct blow to the clavicle. The injury occurs if the humerus in the upper arm is driven out of its socket, resulting to the stretching or tearing of the adjacent muscles and ligaments. Even though uncommon among infants, it can occur and there are specific signs to watch out for.
Evident swelling or deformity
In case the humerus moved out of its socket, the humeral head is driven in front of the joint. If the blow came from the front, it might move behind the joint. Take note that this positioning can result to swelling or a deformed appearance to the shoulder region.
In some cases, a separated shoulder arises which occurs when the joint amidst the clavicle and shoulder blade has been dislocated. This causes the contour of the shoulder to have a hollow in the center.
Redness or bruising
If the child is suspected with a separated or dislocated shoulder, the area around the joint is usually reddened or even bruised. Any type of skin discoloration that occurs after a fall or sustaining a hard strike is a sign of a possible dislocation and requires further assessment by the doctor.
Difficulty with movement
The child could not voice out that he/she is in pain, but expect crying if the injury is present. The child might not even move his/her arm as normally as before.
If a dislocated shoulder is suspected, bring the child to the emergency department or doctor. An X-ray is usually taken to figure out the seriousness of the injury.
An ice pack should be applied on the site to lessen the pain and inflammation. Medications might also be given along with a splint, sling or cast to keep the arm in place as it recuperates which usually takes 4-6 weeks.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a dislocated shoulder among infants is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the signs of injury by taking a standard first aid course with Red Deer First Aid.