What is shoulder instability?
- Our shoulders are the most mobile joint in the body, and any disturbance to the normal anatomy of the shoulder structure can cause shoulder instability which increases risk of dislocation.
- Previous dislocations can make a shoulder feel unstable
- Athletes are also highly prone to this injury (particularly in sports like baseball, swimming and volleyball)
- People who are double jointed are more likely to have this condition, due to looseness in the joint
What are the symptoms?
- Pain caused by shoulder injury
- The shoulder joint feeling “loose” as if the ball is falling out of the socket
- Repeated shoulder dislocations
- Repeated instances of the shoulder giving out
What if it becomes “chronic”?
Once a shoulder has been injured by dislocation, it is highly vulnerable to repeat episodes. When a shoulder has dislocated multiple times it becomes loose and may dislocate spontaneously.
What is the treatment?
- The good news is that this condition can frequently be treated with Arthroscopy – a minimally invasive day procedure.
- Surgical stabilisation (via arthroscopy) involves repairing the torn ligaments.
- As it is usually a day surgical procedure – today it is considered a significantly more minor procedure than it used to be.
- The recovery however still often requires a sling for 6 weeks to protect the repair until it heals.
What is a dislocated shoulder?
- The shoulder is a ball and socket joint and is the most mobile joint in the body. But for every advantage the shoulder gains in mobility – it loses in stability.
- The shoulder is highly vulnerable to dislocation and this may be described as a partial (subluxed) or complete dislocation and anterior, posterior or multi-directional.
- Shoulders are frequently dislocated when there is instability.
What are the symptoms of shoulder dislocation?
- Swelling or bruising
- A shoulder that is visibly deformed or out of place
- Severe pain
- Inability to move the joint
- When a shoulder dislocates, the ball of the joint (the humerus), falls out of the socket of the joint (the glenoid).
- In some instances of dislocation, the head of the humerus may be fractured by the glenoid as it dislocates. This is known as a Hill-Sachs lesion.
What is the treatment?
- Dislocated shoulders require urgent medical attention and treatment can range from anti-inflammatory treatments, to physiotherapy, splinting and a closed reduction (doctor popping the shoulder back in place) or an open reduction (doctor popping the shoulder back in place during surgery).
- This condition is extremely painful so while you’re waiting for medical attention, don’t move the joint.
- Splint or sling in current position
- Do not try to put the shoulder back in place – which can damage the joint and nerves.
- Ice the shoulder to prevent swelling.