There were plenty more injuries to check out in week 4 of the NFL season, but one of the most noticeable was Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky going down with a dislocated shoulder. He was tackled by a Vikings defender and fumbled on the play. As Trubisky was going down, he reached for the ball with his left hand, landing on a fully outstretched left arm. The word out of Chicago is that the damage is not as severe as it could have been and Trubisky likely will not miss the whole year but will be out for some time. Let’s look more into what happens with a shoulder dislocation.

The way Trubisky fell is one of the classic causes of a shoulder dislocation. We call it a FOOSH, or Fall On OutStretched Hand. The shoulder is glenoid labrum teardesigned like a golf ball on a tee with the end of the arm bone being the golf ball and a piece of the shoulder blade,  the tee. As you fall with the arm out, that “golf ball” is separated from the tee and with enough force it can be pushed off completely. This can happen whether you slip while walking your dog, falling on ice, even sliding into a base while playing baseball.

There are muscles and ligaments that normally hold these bones together, but when you dislocate your shoulder there is a risk of loosening these tissues leading to an increased risk of future dislocations. The shoulder joint is also supported by a fibrous ring called the labrum. To use the same golf ball analogy, this goes around the edge of the tee providing more contact area. Many times with a dislocation, part of the labrum is torn which leads to decreased support at that area.

It is important to seek care for a shoulder dislocation quickly to ensure no nerve or blood vessel damage has occurred as this can lead to more severe effects. According to the reports, Trubisky did not have any issues after his shoulder was relocated. Physical therapy for a dislocation usually begins quickly with the main goal being to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint and providing proprioception training which helps the muscles better maintain the shoulders position. Rehab generally takes about 6 weeks for the average person. Trubisky will likely have multiple sessions per day and since it was his non-throwing arm affected he may be able to return sooner than that, but the risk of it popping out again with a sack will still be there.