Jock Doc

A dislocated shoulder may need surgery to repair

Q. I was playing basketball in February and dislocated my right shoulder. I went to the emergency room and they put it back in place. I wore a sling for three weeks and then I began exercises to strengthen my shoulder muscles. I felt fine and went back to play and last week it popped out of place and then back in by itself. It hurt at the time but is feeling better now. What can I do to keep this from happening again?

A. Most shoulder dislocations occur where the ball part of the shoulder pops out of the socket to the front. This is an anterior shoulder dislocation.

In a young athletic person, the cartilage around the socket, or labrum, or stabilizing ligament has to tear. Although physical therapy can help strengthen the stabilizing shoulder muscles, at some point the shoulder usually will pop out again. Once your shoulder has popped out twice, you have about a 95 percent chance it will happen again. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon, who will likely order an X-ray and MRI scan. Most likely you will have to limit certain sports that put you at risk of dislocation or have arthroscopic surgery to correct the problem. The surgical success rate is usually greater than 90 percent.

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