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What Is Shoulder Instability And What Can You Do About It?

Shoulder instability is not a very common problem but when it does happen it can be a very unpleasant experience. Our shoulders are the part of the body that can move the most and consist of a ball and socket kind of a joint. When the structure surrounding the joint does not work to keep the ball tightly secure within the socket, it leads to shoulder instability.

Types of Shoulder Instability

  • Shoulder subluxation

Shoulder subluxation is another painful condition which occurs if the joint is not tight and secure enough, leading to a partially sliding joint.  Shoulder subluxation is a temporary condition and is usually cured through treatment.

  • Shoulder dislocation

Shoulder dislocation is extremely painful and it happens when the shoulder comes out of the joint. Those who suffer from shoulder instability often feel as if their shoulder might slip off any moment. Shoulder instability occurs due to over use or as a result of sudden impact due to injury or an accident.

Who is prone to Shoulder Instability?

Shoulder instability usually occurs usually to people who fall in theses three categories:

  1.   Prior shoulder dislocation

Those patients who have had prior shoulder dislocations are at a risk of developing chronic shoulder instability. In such patients the ligament supporting the shoulder has torn due to the prior dislocation. If these ligaments do not heal properly, chances of repeated dislocations are very high. 80% of the younger patients who suffer a dislocated shoulder go on to experience aggravated shoulder instability.

  1.   Double jointed patients

Double jointed patients who have connective tissue disorders may suffer from loose shoulder joints. In the patients with conditions causing joint laxity or double jointedness, the joints throughout the body of such patients are loose. Such patients are highly vulnerable to shoulder instability, especially shoulder dislocation.

  1.   Young athletes

Young athletes, who indulge in sports such as volleyball, swimming, baseball and basketball, may suffer from multidirectional instability (MDI) and loose shoulder. They tend to stretch the shoulder capsule as well as the ligaments far out causing shoulder instability. Although they do not dislocate the shoulder completely, it greatly affects their game play.

Symptoms of Shoulder Instability

The common symptoms of shoulder instability are:

  • Chronic pain in the shoulder
  • Repeated dislocation of the shoulder
  • Repeated slipping of the shoulder
  • A vague persistent feeling that the shoulder will slip off any moment
  • Difficulty in holding things with the hand of the affected shoulder

Treatment for Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability treatment depends on what is causing the instability of the shoulder. In order to determine the cause of shoulder instability the doctor will first conduct a complete physical check up and also inquire about the patient’s medical history.

  • Tests

Furthermore your doctor may prescribe you to certain imaging tests such as an X-ray and a MRI scan in order to determine the exact cause of shoulder instability. These imaging techniques help to observe the ligaments and tendons in depth, thus helping to determine the cause.

  • Physical therapy

Those who suffer from multi-directional instability are treated with physical therapy program. A physical therapy regimen will help to strengthen the muscles responsible for keeping the shoulder in place. However, many MDI patients have to undergo surgery when a prolonged physical therapy program doesn’t yield results. A surgery will help to tighten the shoulder capsule and thus reduce the looseness of the joint.

  • Surgery

Those patients who have a dislocated shoulder due a traumatic injury also suffer from a torn structure responsible for holding the shoulder in place. When the structure that is torn is the shoulder labrum, this is known as a Bankart tear. The labrum is then surgically repaired by a Bankart repair.

A person suffering from shoulder instability must consult a doctor right away and determine the severity of the condition in order to avoid any long term damage to the joint.


Author Bio: Michelle Tyler is a well-known writer who provides meaningful information regarding the latest technologies and apps which in turn helps orthopedic surgeons to improvise on their specific tasks. These articles help patients understand the latest treatment options that are available to them.



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