Skip to main content

Posterior dislocation of the shoulder: recommendations for a classification


Posterior dislocation of the should is rare, constituting only 2.1% of all shoulder dislocations. The mechanisms of injury may be due to direct or indirect forces, and constitutional predisposing factors also play a role. Anatomically, 97.5% of dislocations are subacromial. Three hundred articles published in the international literature concerning posterior shoulder dislocation and subluxation were reviewed and a classification determined by the underlying aetiology was developed. On this basis dislocations and subluxations may be traumatic or atraumatic, primary and recurrent; recurrent cases of voluntary dislocation are considered separately. In addition, a follow-up assessment score weighted towards stability of the shoulder after treatment is detailed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    Ansorge D (1980) Die doppelseitige hintere Schultergelenksluxationsfraktur als Folge eines Starkstromunfalls. Zentralbl Chir 105:465–467

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    organ JA (1955) Posterior dislocation of the shoulder. Am J Surg 89:890–900

    Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Eber K, Buch J (1987) Die hintere Schulterluxation. Hefte Unfallheilkd 186:88–90

    Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Fox KW (1963) Posterior dislocation of the shoulder. J Orthop 5:160–164

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Fronek J, Warren RF, Bowen M (1989) Posterior subluxation of the glenchumeral joint. J Bone Jt Surg [Am] 71:205–216

    Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Gerber C, Ganz R (1984) Clinical assesment of instability of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Br] 66:551–556

    Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Hawkins RJ, Neer CS, Pianta RM, Mendoza FX (1987) Locked posterior dislocations of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 69:9–18

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Heller K-D (1993) Definition einer ätiologieorientierten Klassifikation der hinteren Schulter luxation und Schultersubluxation Bowie Bewertung der konservativen und operativen Therapieverfahren zur Entwicklung einer klassifikationsspezifischen Differentialtherapie. Thesis, RWTH Aachen

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Kessel L, Baylay IL (1986) Clinical disorders of the shoulder, 2nd edn. Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh

    Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Neer CS (1970) Displaced proximal humeral fractures. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 52:1077–1103

    Google Scholar 

  11. 11.

    Nobel W (1962) Posterior traumatic dislocation of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 44:523–538

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Poigenfürst J (1975) Die hinteren Schulterverrenkungen. Hefte Unfallheilkd 126:83–85

    Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Rockwood CA (1984) Subluxations and dislocations of the shoulder: In: Rockwood CA, Green DP (ed) Fractures in adults, 2nd edn. Lippincott, Philadelphia, pp 807–856

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Rowe CR (1962) Acute and recurrent dislocations of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 44:998–1008

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Rowe CR, Zarins B (1982) Chronic unreduced dislocations of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 64:494–505

    Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Schultz TJ, Jacobs B, Patterson AL (1969) Unrecognized dislocations of the shoulder. J Trauma 9:1009–1021

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Shaw JL (1971) Bilateral posterior fracture dislocation of the shoulder. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 53:1437–1440

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Sharkawi AH (1958) Posterior dislocation of the shoulder. J Egypt Med Assoc 41:22–28

    Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Vastamäki M, Solonen KA (1980) Posterior dislocation and fracture-dislocation of the shoulder. Acta Orthop Scand 51:479–484

    Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Ziegler R (1980) Die dorsale Instabilität der Schulter und ihre Behandlung. Orthop Praxis 8:656–660

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to K. -D. Heller.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Heller, K.D., Forst, J., Forst, R. et al. Posterior dislocation of the shoulder: recommendations for a classification. Arch Orthop Trauma Surg 113, 228–231 (1994).

Download citation


  • Public Health
  • International Literature
  • Assessment Score
  • Shoulder Dislocation
  • Recurrent Case