Subluxation is a term that Orthopedic Surgeons commonly utilize. For the purpose of this post we will put it in the context of shoulder injuries.
Our shoulder is a very complex joint. The shoulder has two main bones. Essentially, there is a large ball sitting on a much smaller socket. Think about a golf ball resting on a golf tee.
Holding the ball in place is a cartilage disc, or a labrum and a series of ligaments that hold the two bones together.
If the ligaments and labrum are working properly the shoulder can move in any direction without the ball trying to fall over the edge of the socket.
When the ball moves close to the edge of the socket we have a problem called shoulder instability. That means that the ball is coming close to falling off the socket, or it in fact does fall completely off the socket.
Shoulder instability comes in many variants.
- you were born with loose ligaments,
- you participate in overhead sports and stretched the ligaments,
- or you injured yourself and the ligaments are now torn.
Along comes a breeze that blows the ball to the edge of the socket, but the ball falls back into its normal position. That is a subluxation event. It implies that the ligaments are incompetent or loose, but not loose enough to allow the ball to completely fall off or dislocate.
If a breeze comes by and the ball falls off the tee… that would be a dislocation event. That tends to imply that the ligaments are significantly torn, or stretched.
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