Immobilization in external rotation after primary shoulder dislocation did not reduce the risk of recurrence: a randomized controlled trial

Sigurd Liavaag, Jens Ivar Brox, Are Hugo Pripp, Martine Enger, Lars Atle Soldal, Svein Svenningsen
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. American Volume 2011 May 18, 93 (10): 897-904

BACKGROUND: The treatment of primary traumatic anterior shoulder dislocation varies widely from no immobilization, to two or three weeks of immobilization in internal rotation with the arm in a sling, to treatment with a brace in external rotation. The aim of the present clinical trial was to compare immobilization in internal and external rotation after anterior shoulder dislocation.

METHODS: One hundred and eighty-eight patients with a primary anterior traumatic dislocation of the shoulder were randomly assigned to treatment with immobilization in either internal rotation (ninety-five patients) or external rotation (ninety-three patients) for three weeks. The primary outcome measure was a recurrent dislocation within twenty-four months of follow-up.

RESULTS: The follow-up rate after a minimum period of two years was 97.9% (ninety-three of ninety-five) in the internal rotation group and 97.8% (ninety-one of ninety-three) in the external rotation group. The compliance rate with the immobilization was 47.4% (forty-five of ninety-five) in the internal rotation group and 67.7% (sixty-three of ninety-three) in the external rotation group. The intention-to-treat analyses showed that the recurrence rate was 24.7% (twenty-three of ninety-three) in the internal rotation group and 30.8% (twenty-eight of ninety-one) in the external rotation group (p = 0.36).

CONCLUSIONS: Immobilization in external rotation does not reduce the rate of recurrence for patients with first-time traumatic anterior shoulder dislocation.

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