anterior shoulder dislocation

Last reviewed 02/2021

This is the most common type of dislocation of the shoulder. It accurate diagnosis requires 2 radiographs:

  • an AP, with
  • an axillary or transcapular view

The history is often one of a fall on the hand.

On examination, there is a flattening of the deltoid (giving rise to a positive Hamilton's ruler sign), with a bulge visible anteriorly in thinner patients. The axillary nerve supplies sensation over a small area on the lateral aspect of the shoulder (sergeant's stripes area) and this should be tested in any shoulder dislocation injury.

95% of shoulder dislocations are anterior (1).


  • 1. Cutts S Prempeh P Drew S Anterior Shoulder Dislocation Ann R Coll Surg Engl. 2009 January; 91(1): 2-7