Shoulder dislocations are more common in contact athletes. A shoulder dislocation implies that the ball or humerus has slid off the socket, or the glenoid. Most shoulder dislocations will cause a tear in a structure we call the labrum. The labrum is a cartilage disc and serves as an attachment point for the ligaments in the shoulder. So, if the labrum is torn and no longer attached to the socket (a Bankart lesion) then the ligaments in the front of the shoulder are loose. After your first dislocation, you will usually rip the labrum off of the front of the shoulder. The labrum rarely heals back in its normal position. This causes the ligaments which attach to the labrum to remain loose. If the ligaments in the front of your shoulder are loose then you are at risk for a second and third and so on dislocation.
Only a certain percentage of you will have a second dislocation. Contact athletes are at a higher risk for a second dislocation. If you have more than 3 dislocations, the results of surgery start to diminish. Some sports medicine physicians are starting to recommend surgery on contact athletes after their first dislocation. This is not a mainstream idea as yet and remains a controversial area. In this video, Dr Jeff Berg and I discuss the options you have after you have dislocated your shoulder and you are trying to decide if surgery is an option for you.