How to Pop Your Shoulder? Tips to Fix Dislocated Shoulder and Precautions

How to pop your shoulder

Cracking or popping of shoulder joints a common condition. A dislocated shoulder is a very painful especially when it happens for the first time.

If you’re wondering how to pop your shoulder or how to pop your shoulder back in place, you’re at the right place.

Cracking or Popping the Shoulder

It is quite annoying when your joints make popping or cracking sounds.

These sounds, however, do not indicate any underlying problem if there’s no pain. The soft tissues in your body are responsible for the clicking sounds.

You may sometimes feel that the shoulder feels like it needs to pop but won’t.

This is due to the volatility or instability of your shoulders. This feeling occurs when the muscles and ligaments become weak.

If you are an athlete, your muscles and ligaments are likely to overstretch due to overexerting, resulting in pain.

Related Reading: Numbness, Pain, and Tingling in the Left Arm

How to Pop Your Shoulder?

So how to pop your shoulder back in place? You need to be careful while popping your shoulder. If you do it the wrong way, it could cause further damage.

How to pop your shoulder

The shoulder joint is a complicated part of the body. Thus, it is quite essential that you understand some basics about your shoulder.

Wondering “how to crack your elbow?” or “how to pop your shoulder?” You see popping an elbow is much easier than popping your shoulder. If you learn the right technique, you can pop your shoulder with ease.

Following are a few quick ways to help you understand how to pop your shoulder.

  • Start by raising your arm and placing your wrist behind your head.
  • Once you attain this still position, pull the wrist that you placed behind your head with the other hand to the opposite direction. Do it slowly and without any jerk.
  • Repeat this movement a few times gently without affecting your neck.
  • Once done with a few repetitions, bring back your arm to the side of your hip and gently pull it behind your lower spine. Repeat this a few times.
  • Repeat this exercise of raising the arm and pulling arm behind the back few times until you decide its enough for that session.
  • It is important to be careful while popping the shoulder. Slightest negligence or hastiness can trigger permanent damage.

Related Reading: How to Pop Your Ears in 7 Easy Ways

How to Pop Dislocated Shoulder?

Dislocated joints, especially the shoulder, are serious injuries that cause direct short-term disability.

The shoulder is highly vulnerable to dislocation as it’s the most mobile joint in the body and people usually fall with an outstretched arm, which puts the joint in an awkward position.

When the shoulder is partially dislocated (subluxation), that means the upper arm head (humerus) has moved out of the socket (glenoid).

A complete dislocation means that it is entirely out of the socket. In both cases, pain and shakiness occur in the shoulder.

Symptoms of a dislocated shoulder include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling or puffiness
  • Deformity
  • Weakness
  • Numbness

Here are a few steps on how to pop your dislocated shoulder.

How to pop your shoulder Infographics

Identify the Symptoms

Falling onto an outstretched arm or hitting the shoulder from the back causes a dislocated shoulder. You may experience unexpected and rigorous pain, followed by a popping feeling.

Immobilize Your Arm

Try to stay calm and avoid making unnecessary movements until you get a medical help. It’s possible that you may have damaged a nerve or ripped the blood vessel. Hence, any movement may prove fatal.

Ice Your Shoulder

If you have access to ice or something cold, you should immediately use it on the affected joint to slow up inflammation. Ice helps the small blood vessels to shrink and restrict the blood flow and swelling in the affected area.

Crush some ice and wrap it in a soft cloth. Apply it to your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes. Do it every hour so that you feel numb in that area.

Take Pain Medications

After you have immobilized and massaged your shoulder with ice, you take a painkiller to help soothe pain and inflammation.

Medicines namely, naproxen, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen can help. However, consult with your doctor before taking any painkiller.

Related Reading: Can You Take Clindamycin and Alcohol Together? Is it Safe?

How to Pop Your Dislocated Shoulder? (Only in Emergency)

If you are at an isolated place, where no immediate medical help is available you may wonder how to pop your dislocated shoulder.

If the pain is unbearable, you can try relocating your shoulder on your own or with the help of someone. Here’s how to pop your shoulder in such situations:

  • Lie down and relax your shoulder joint. If you’re popping someone else’s shoulder back, make sure that the person is relaxed, and stable before proceeding.
  • Stretch the affected arm gently out to the side. Slowly, lift it over the head. Slow down if the pain increases.
  • Move your hand behind your head as if you were to scratch the back of your neck. Be slow and gentle.
  • Extend the movement to touch your opposite shoulder. This movement may help bring your shoulder back to its original position. You might experience sudden relief from the pain. If you’re able to move your shoulder without pain, it means you have learned how to pop your shoulder back.

Related Reading: Sudden Shoulder Pain: Causes, Treatment and Prevention

How to Pop Your Shoulder like a Chiropractor

It’s quite common to experience shoulder dislocation due to sports or an accident.

It’s recommended to pay a  visit to a physician for further diagnosis if your shoulder appears to be crooked. Most physicians are professionally trained chiropractors.

They can help treating smaller joints, crooked knees and they know how to pop your shoulder. Here are few methods for how to pop your shoulder like a chiropractor.

How to Pop Your Shoulder? Treatment #1: Arm Hang

  • Use a table or a bed or something that’s high enough allowing the arms to hang off. Make the person lie flat on the stomach ensuring that their injured arm hangs down but not touches the ground.
  • Wrap a weight on your hand or lower arm. The recommended pressure should be approximately 15 pounds.

The person should now start feeling better as the muscles will relax and the humerus will move to the socket rim. This is good enough to attain the original position.

To find out if the treatment did the wonders, remove the weight off after 15 to 20 minutes and see if the person can reach the opposite shoulder with their injured hand.

How to Pop Your Shoulder? Treatment #2: Arm Pull

  • Make the person lie down flat on the back.
  • Move the arm of the injured side horizontally away from the body. Try to obtain a 45-degree form.
  • Make a firm grip with the injured hand and pull it firmly and steadily retaining the 45 degrees angle. You may assist yourself by pushing against the side of the injured person using your foot.

How to Pop Your Shoulder? Treatment #3: Arm Rotation

You should consider this option only if you are unable to get an expert help for days.

  • Make the person lie on his back and rest the affected arm close to the body.
  • Hold the forearm and make circular motions of the forearm slowly till the hand reaches the position of their face.
  • Bend the arm and keep the upper arm close to the body. Move the forearm to the body and hold it there until you form a 90-degree angle as compared to the upper part.
  • When you have completed doing the above steps, try moving the humerus away from the body while retaining the angle of the elbow formed earlier. The movement should make an angle of 90-degree between the arm and the chest.
  • Repeat the steps as mentioned earlier to help keep the elbow locked and flexed.

What If Your Shoulder Pops Itself?

Most of us experience clicking or popping almost every day. This is due to constant use and alterations that happen gradually within our joints. Aging causes wear and tear of the joints. and leads to snapping or popping.

Painless shoulder snapping or popping is not alarming and doesn’t require medical attention. You should consult an expert if the popping or snapping sounds in your joints are accompanied by the pain.

If your age is 35 or below, your shoulder sounds indicate joint instability. This is common if you have double-jointed shoulders. Any injury can also cause these sounds. See a physiotherapist, and he or she shall guide you further.

If you’re between the age 35 and 60 years, you may observe grating along pain with itself. The cause of grating is the regular use of the tendons.

If you’re above 60 and experience a sore grating while you move or lift your shoulders, it might be due to arthritis.

Precautions to Take When Popping Your Shoulder

  • Take it easy if the person is in pain while undergoing the techniques mentioned above.
  • You may cause further injuries if you force the methods.
  • Opt for painkillers to ease the pain after consulting the doctors.
  • You are not Hulk. Refrain from banging yourself against a wall or any object assuming it will do the wonders. We recommend ignoring any such suggestion made to you by anyone.
  • Do not panic when clicking or popping occurs as it is very common. Just in case you feel pain due to the popping of your shoulder, consult an expert.
  • We recommend an X-ray report for people suffering from arthritis or folks over 60 years of age. This will help clarify any doubts between the pain caused by arthritis or by a popped shoulder.

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Dr. David Cummings, MD

David Cummings, MD, is a medical reviewer and editor at Daily Health Cures. David received his medical degree from the University of Illinois.