Unstable/Dislocating Shoulders

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.

                                                                                                Dislocated Shoulder 

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.