Treating the initial anterior shoulder dislocation--an evidence-based medicine approach

Sports Med Arthrosc Rev. 2006 Dec;14(4):192-8. doi: 10.1097/


This manuscript presents the best available evidence to answer questions regarding the treatment of the patient with an initial anterior shoulder dislocation. The highest levels of evidence available offer the following conclusions: (1) of the many methods to reduce the dislocated shoulder, little data exist to identify the best method. Recommendations are based on low levels of evidence (levels 4 and 5). (2) Premedication with intra-articular lidocaine has fewer complications and requires a shorter time in the emergency room than intravenous sedation with no detectable differences in reduction success rates (level 1). (3) Postreduction immobilization in external rotation may reduce recurrence (level 2), but immobilization in internal rotation does not (level 1). (4) Arthroscopic surgery significantly reduces recurrence compared to a nonoperative approach (level 1), and (5) there are limited data on features that would allow a safe return to play. Expert opinion suggests that return is allowed when motion and strength are nearly normal, and the athletes can engage in sport-specific activities, however, the athlete is at risk for recurrence while playing (levels 4 and 5).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage
  • Arthroscopy
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage
  • Manipulation, Orthopedic / methods
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Shoulder Dislocation / therapy*
  • Splints


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine