Jock Doc

My shoulder popped out while playing basketball. How can I prevent this in the future?

You can sometimes dislocate your shoulder while playing sports, including surfing.
You can sometimes dislocate your shoulder while playing sports, including surfing. AP

Q. I am 22 and right-handed. Six months ago, I dislocated my right shoulder playing basketball.

I went to the emergency room to have it put back in place. After a few weeks of rest, my shoulder felt mostly normal until last week when I fell while surfing and it popped out again. My cousin helped get me back to shore and I had to return again to the ER to have it put back in the socket.

My doctor told me that I had to have surgery or give up sports. Is this true? If I did have surgery, how long until I could play sports again?

A. When your shoulder pops out of place, you usually injure your labrum.

The labrum is like a bumper that goes around your shoulder socket to keep the ball part of the shoulder in place. When torn, the labrum usually does not heal properly, which causes the shoulder to be unstable.

In your age group, with a history of two dislocations, you have a greater than 90% chance that your shoulder will pop out again. Your orthopedic surgeon will order X-rays and an MRI scan to determine the extent of the damage and determine if the minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery is possible or if a traditional open incision technique is necessary to restore normal stability.

After surgery, you will be in a sling for four to six weeks followed by a rehab program. You will be out of contact sports for at least six months.

The success rate of this particular surgery is high — greater than 80% of patients have no further dislocations and return to their sport of choice.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to