A dislocated shoulder may heal better without treatment, new research suggests. While it is common to undergo surgery and treatment following acromioclavicular dislocation (AC), there is little evidence to suggest this is the best course of action.
Shoulder dislocation or acromioclavicular dislocation is one of the most common injuries related to sports, falls or accidents. The acromioclavicular joint is located between the shoulder blade and the collarbone. The location of the joint makes it an easy target in the case of accidents. And while more severe dislocations do require medical intervention, others may heal better and faster just by wearing a fixing sling and perhaps following rehabilitation programs.
A dislocated shoulder may heal better without treatment, the new research suggests. An overwhelming number of patients visiting their physicians with a dislocated acromioclavicular joint ask that they receive surgical correction. This involves the readjustment of the joint with a plate fixed in the bones with screws. Is that really necessary for all the dislocated shoulder cases?
Doctor Michael McKee with the Saint Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and author of the study explained that while the medical community acknowledges the need for surgical intervention with the most severe cases, there is little evidence that sustains the same procedure is followed with lesser dislocations.
To understand the importance of surgical intervention versus self-healing, the research team recruited 83 patients presenting dislocated acromioclavicular joints. 43 of the patients didn’t receive surgery. 40 followed the surgical intervention procedure.
The findings seem to tilt the balance in favor of non-surgical intervention and self-healing. 75 percent of the patients in the first group returned to work after a three-month period. Moreover, at each of the two follow-up checks, scheduled for six weeks and three months after their shoulders were dislocated, they had more mobility.
Patients in the second group received surgical intervention. Here, only 43 percent were able to return to work after the three-month period. In addition, their mobility was lesser than for patients in the first group.
Patients who received surgical intervention for their dislocated acromioclavicular joints also had medical complications. Seven in the 40 group either faced the loosening of the fixing plate, or suffered infections. Other minor drawbacks included numbness.
One drawback noticed in the first group was the aspect of the shoulder after it had healed. 21 percent of the patients in the first group complained about how the shoulder looks. Only four percent of the second group had the same issue.
Doctor McKee declared that while the satisfaction of patients with concern to the looks of their shoulder is important, there are other aspects that should be more important. For instance, risk of infection or the risk of losing mobility.
The research was published in the Journal of Orthopedic Trauma.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia
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