The shoulder joint moves more than any other joint in the body, enabling you to lift and rotate the arm, as well as reaching above the head and moving in all directions. Shoulder instability, usually caused by a dislocation or subluxation, is when the joint moves around more than it should, and repeatedly slips out of place.
There are three main causes:
Pain, repeated dislocations, or cases of the shoulder slipping, feeling loose or unstable are all typical symptoms.
Having discussed any previous dislocation and carefully examined the area, your specialist will check the stability of the shoulder as well as your range of movement, before arranging for you to have an X-ray and frequently an MRI scan to identify any other problems and show the extent of the damage. CT scans can also help in assessing bone damage.
Non-operative treatment: this involves making adjustments to your lifestyle and avoiding activities that make your symptoms worse. You may be offered a brace to support the shoulder and your doctor may also advise you to take anti-inflammatory medication and take gentle exercise to strengthen your shoulder muscles to help with stability.
Surgery: In some cases, particularly for young athletes, ligament repair surgery may be necessary to help hold the joint in position. This is usually carried out using arthroscopy.
Important: This information is only a guideline to help you understand your treatment and what to expect. Everyone is different and your rehabilitation may be quicker or slower than other people’s. Please contact us for advice if you’re worried about any aspect of your health or recovery.