Chronic Shoulder Instability

The shoulder is considered the most moveable joint inside your body. It can help you to raise your arm, to rotate it, and to get up over your head. It can turn in many directions. This bigger range of motion, nevertheless, might cause instability.

Shoulder instability happens when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out from the shoulder socket. This may happen as a consequence of an abrupt injury or from too much use.

When a shoulder has disjointed, it is susceptible to repeat episodes. When the shoulder is loose and slips out-of-place over and over, it is known as chronic shoulder instability.


Your shoulder is composed of three bones: your upper arm bone (humerus), your shoulder blade (scapula), and your collarbone (clavicle).

The head, or ball, of your upper arm bone fits in a shallow socket within your shoulder blade. This socket is called the glenoid. Firm connective tissue, referred to as the shoulder capsule, is the ligament system of the shoulder and holds the head of the upper arm bone centered in the glenoid socket. This particular tissue covers the shoulder joint and links the upper end of the arm bone to the shoulder blade.

Your shoulder also relies upon strong tendons and muscles to keep your shoulder stable.


Hip Sprain Internal Derangement of Knee Knee Dislocation Meniscal Tear Knee Sprain Lateral & Medial EpicondylitisShoulder dislocations can be incomplete, with the ball of the upper arm coming just partially out of the socket. This is known as a subluxation. A whole dislocation means the ball comes completely out of the socket.

When the ligaments, tendons, and muscles around the shoulder come to be loose or torn, dislocations may appear consistently. Chronic shoulder instability is the persistent inability of these tissues to keep the arm based in the shoulder socket.


You'll find 3 prevalent ways in which a shoulder could become unstable:

Shoulder Dislocation

Major injury, or trauma, is generally what triggers an initial shoulder dislocation. Whenever the head of the humerus dislocates, the socket bone (glenoid) and the ligaments right in front of the shoulder are frequently injured. The labrum the cartilage rim around the edge of the glenoid may also tear. This is typically known as a Bankart lesion. A serious first dislocation could lead to continued dislocations, giving out, or feelings of instability.

Repetitive Strain

Some individuals with shoulder instability haven't ever had a dislocation. Many of these patients have loose ligaments in their shoulder area. This increased looseness may be just their normal anatomy. Occasionally, it is the outcome of repeated overhead motion.

Swimming, tennis, and volleyball are among the sports requiring frequent overhead motion that can stretch out the shoulder ligaments. Numerous jobs also call for repeated overhead work.

Looser ligaments can make it difficult to maintain shoulder stability. Repetitive or stressful activities can challenge a weakened shoulder. This may create a painful, unstable shoulder.

Multidirectional Instability

In a small section of patients, the shoulder may become unstable without any history of injury or recurring strain. In these patients, the shoulder could feel loose or dislocate in several directions, which means the ball could dislocate out of the front, out of the back, or out the bottom of the shoulder. This is called multidirectional instability. These people have naturally loose ligaments all through the body and could possibly be "double-jointed."


Common symptoms of chronic shoulder instability include:

Discomfort as a result of shoulder injury

Recurring shoulder dislocations

Repeated instances of the shoulder giving out

A persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose, sliding in and out of the joint, or simply "hanging there"

Doctor Examination

Physical Examination and Patient History

After talking over your symptoms and medical record, your physician will inspect your shoulder. Specific tests help your doctor examine instability in the shoulder. Your doctor might also test for general looseness within your ligaments. For instance, you could be asked to try to touch your thumb to the underside of your forearm.

Imaging Tests

The doctor might order imaging tests to help verify your diagnosis and recognize any other issues.

X-rays. These pictures will show any injuries to the bones that make up your shoulder joint.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This offers comprehensive images of soft tissues. It may help your doctor determine injuries to the ligaments and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint.

Osteoarthritis of Knee Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome or Knee Pain Plantar Fasciitis Pseudoarthrosis Radiculopathy Rotator Cuff TearTreatment

Chronic shoulder instability is often initially treated with nonsurgical options. If these options don't relieve the discomfort and instability, surgical methods may be required.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Your physician will develop a treatment plan to ease your symptoms. It often takes several months of nonsurgical treatment before you can determine how well it's working. Nonsurgical treatment typically includes:

Activity modification. Make sure you make some changes in your way of living and try to avoid activities that irritate your symptoms.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication. Drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen lessen pain and swelling.

Physical therapy. Strengthening shoulder muscles and working on shoulder control can increase stability. Your therapist will create a home exercise routine for your shoulder.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is commonly required to fix torn or stretched ligaments so they are better able to keep the shoulder joint in place.

Arthroscopy. Soft tissues within the shoulder may be mended using little instruments and little incisions. This is a same-day or outpatient procedure. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive operation. Your surgeon will look inside the shoulder with a small camera and do the surgery with special pencil-thin devices.

Open Surgery. Some patients may need an open surgical treatment. This entails creating a larger surgical incision over the shoulder and doing the repair under direct visualization.

Rehabilitation. Immediately after surgical treatment, your shoulder may be immobilized briefly with a sling.

When the sling is removed, exercise to restore the ligaments will be started. These will improve the range of flexibility in your shoulder and prevent scarring as the ligaments repair. Exercises to strengthen your shoulder will steadily be added to your treatment plan.

Always adhere to your doctor's plan for treatment. Though it is a slow procedure, your commitment to physical therapy is a vital factor in returning to all of the activities you enjoy. Should you have any more questions regarding chronic shoulder instability, contact Dr. Weaver at 573-582-0444.

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