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Traumatic shoulder dislocation is a frequent condition presenting to the emergency department. Due to the anatomy of the shoulder, associated neurovascular damage is not uncommon. Although clinical intuition may suggest that a higher-energy mechanism is required to produce neurovascular sequelae, the existing literature does not support this supposition.
A 55-year-old woman presented to the emergency department with a complete brachial plexus palsy from an acute anterior shoulder dislocation following a violent sneeze. The shoulder was reduced without difficulty in the emergency department within 90 min of dislocation, and the patient was discharged. Her neurologic deficits gradually improved through a program of supervised therapy and orthopedic care. Follow-up at 1 year revealed marked improvement of motor and sensory function of the affected extremity with mild residual weakness and paresthesias in the affected hand.
Neurovascular injuries in the setting of shoulder dislocation may be present despite low-energy injury mechanisms.