A subluxed shoulder is painful because the upper arm (humerus) has slipped out of the shoulder socket. Subluxation is rated by how many fingers you can fit in the space created by this abnormal shoulder separation. I had a one finger subluxation so the hospital staff put a small lap tray that slid over one armrest of my wheelchair. I made sure the staff put the tray on every day because I knew nerve damage can occur if nerves in the shoulder are stretched too much.
The lap tray could not support my shoulder when I walked and did exercises while sitting on a mat table. My shoulder ached constantly during these times until my OT bound it up with Kinesio tape. This wide tape provides support but is stretchy enough to allow movement. I wore the tape 24 hours a day - even in the shower. It eventually came loose and had to be replaced every third day.
Hanger and associates found stroke survivors who had their shoulder Kinesio taped had less shoulder pain (1). The improvement got very close to statistical significance (p = 0.11 instead of the required 0.10) because some people were helped while others were not. I am glad Kinesio tape worked for me because having a subluxed shoulder felt like someone had punched my arm very hard. The only thing that made that constant ache go away was Kinesio tape.
1. Hanger H, Whitewood P, Brown G, Ball M, Harper J, Cox R, Sainsbury R. A randomized controlled trial of strapping to prevent post-stroke shoulder pain. Clinical Rehabilitation. 2000;14(4):370-380.