Doctors usually diagnose a dislocated shoulder by taking the patient's medical history and performing a physical exam. X-rays are commonly taken when a patient is first seen for the dislocation as well as after the shoulder has been put back into place. The images can show whether the humeral head or glenoid cavity has any significant injury.
Some patients also need an MRI, which allows the doctor to check for other damage to the shoulder, such as a labral injury or a rotator cuff tear.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.