EAST MEADOW, NY – Seattle Seahawk’s safety Earl Thomas dislocated his shoulder during Sunday’s game and if he is unable to properly raise his arm, the Patriots may take note of that during the Super Bowl.
A dislocated shoulder is when the ball and socket of the shoulder get detached.
“His shoulder was likely reduced or the ball was put back into the socket on the field or in the locker room shortly after the injury,” says Randy Cohn, MD, orthopedic surgeon for the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “In most people who are not professional athletes looking to play in the Super Bowl, you would rest them and give this a chance to heal before you risk a recurring dislocation. And in people who have recurrent dislocations, meaning they have done this over and over again, they may require surgery to fix the shoulder capsule and the labrum to prevent this from happening again. In a professional athlete who’s two weeks away from playing in the Super Bowl, it is likely that Seattle will let him play and address this problem in the off season if this does become a recurrent problem.”
But even if Mr. Thomas plays on Sunday, Feb. 1, depending on how he is feeling, the Patriots may use his injury to their advantage.
“One thing that [Seattle] may do is use a brace that connects his shoulder to his shoulder pads and limits his ability to reach overhead and back,” Dr. Cohn says. “The advantage of that is that is it can limit his chances of sustaining a re-injury during the game, however this is certainly something the New England Patriots would look out for during warm ups.”
For the everyday person who is concerned they may have dislocated their shoulder, they will feel a pop and great pain in that area, Dr. Cohn says. For children and adults particularly who play sports, Dr. Cohn stresses the importance of seeing a doctor if you think you dislocated your shoulder.
“If you have a shoulder dislocation and it’s put back in on the field, it doesn’t mean that everything is fine,” says Dr. Cohn, who was on the medical staff of the Patriots during his sports medicine training. “Proper treatment can prevent long-term problems such as recurrent dislocations.”
People who have recurrent dislocations are at greater risk of having dislocations in the future as well as shoulder arthritis, which can lead to more procedures down the line, Dr. Cohn says.