Nerve injury following shoulder dislocation: the emergency physician's perspective

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid


We describe the case of a 57-year-old woman who presented to the emergency department with a right anterior shoulder dislocation following a fall onto the right shoulder and right upper arm. She also complained of numbness in the right forearm and dorsum of the right hand. The examination revealed a bruise to the upper aspect of the right arm resulting from the impact following the fall. The patient also had a right wrist drop and loss of sensation in the lateral border of the right forearm and on the dorsum of the right hand, suggesting a radial nerve injury. She also had altered sensation in the ulnar distribution of her right hand, suspicious of concomitant ulnar nerve injury. No loss of sensation in the distribution of the axillary nerve (regimental patch) was observed. These findings were carefully documented and the patient subsequently had the shoulder reduced under entonox and morphine. The neurological deficits remained unchanged. The patient was sent home from the emergency room with arrangements for orthopaedic and physiotherapy follow-up. After a 3-month period, she had clinical and electromyography evidence of persistent radial and ulnar nerve deficit. She continues to have physiotherapy. This case highlights the need for awareness of the potential for nerve damage following shoulder dislocation and also to ensure that appropriate follow-up plan is instituted on discharge from the emergency department.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles