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Q
How is a dislocated shoulder diagnosed?
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An athlete who experiences a dislocated shoulder will develop immediate pain and an inability to move the arm. There is usually a deformity of the shoulder with a fullness that can be felt by the examining athletic trainer or physician.

There are typically no other significant injuries; however, shoulder dislocations in older patients can result in a tear of the rotator cuff tendon that may also require treatment. Plain x-rays are always obtained in a player suspected of having a dislocated shoulder. Not only will x-rays confirm the presence and direction of the dislocation, but they will also help rule out the existence of any other fractures. Unfortunately, plain x-rays only show bone injury. An MRI (magnetic resonance image) can also be useful in diagnosing the extent of soft-tissue damage to the labrum, muscles, tendons, and cartilage in and around the shoulder joint.

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