What Contributes to Shoulder Instability?
Shoulder instability often emerges as the result of accidental or overuse injuries that strain the shoulder.
Causes of shoulder instability
Shoulder instability occurs when the top of the bone in the upper arm (known as the humeral head) is no longer resting in the shoulder socket. The shoulder joint is supported by a complex collection of cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and muscles, which can be strained past their limit and lead to the misplacement of the upper arm bone in its socket. This disconnection in the joint produces a feeling of instability in the shoulder.
Two common types of shoulder instability include
- Multidirectional shoulder instability: The head of the humeral bone is moving outside the socket in multiple directions.
- Chronic shoulder instability: After repeated shoulder dislocations, the shoulder joint becomes vulnerable and has consistent trouble keeping the ball of the humeral bone in its spot in the socket, leading to chronic instability.
Shoulder instability often emerges in athletes that repeatedly rely on their shoulder joint, including swimmers, throwers, and tennis players. People who have dislocated their shoulder or suffered serious shoulder injuries are also at higher risk of developing shoulder instability or repeated
Others may just have naturally loose joints or ligaments that lead to instability.
Symptoms of shoulder instability
If your shoulder instability has been brought on by overuse or a traumatic shoulder injury, then you will likely experience some of the following symptoms in your shoulder joint:
- Feeling of instability, weakness, or looseness in the shoulder
- Catching or popping
- Pain or discomfort in the shoulder (especially when in use)
- Difficulty moving the shoulder or doing normal activities
Diagnosing shoulder instability
Shoulder instability can usually be diagnosed with a physical exam that examines the source of pain or discomfort, the integrity of the shoulder joint, and the shoulder’s range of motion. X-rays may also be ordered to evaluate the bone structure to rule out other potential conditions.
Treating shoulder instability
Your treatment will depend on the extent and nature of your condition. Conservative treatments for shoulder instability include
- Resting the injured shoulder
- Trying out physical therapy exercises to strengthen and realign the unstable shoulder
- Taking anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation
For more severe or chronic cases of shoulder instability, surgery may be necessary to restore the shoulder joint’s natural positioning. Two common procedures include
- Shoulder arthroscopy: A surgeon will make a few small incisions and insert a small camera that will examine the shoulder joint for the source of the instability. The surgeon can then use a variety of small instruments to repair any stretched or damaged tendon, ligament, or cartilage that is identified.
- Open surgery: This procedure involves a single larger incision through which the surgeon can repair the damaged structures.
Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants: Treating shoulder instability
Chronic and multidirectional shoulder instability can cause a great deal of discomfort and interfere with your ability to do some of your favorite things. At Midwest Orthopaedic Consultants, we want you to get back to doing what you love. Our orthopedic specialists are prepared to evaluate your individual case and to offer some of the most innovative treatments.
If you’re dealing with symptoms of shoulder instability, contact us to book an appointment right away!
Only a doctor can tell you if you have this ailment. This is for informational purposes and should not be used in lieu of a doctor’s opinion.