Recognizing Shoulder Instability

You’re having shoulder problems; you’re in pain, and the shoulder feels loose. You likely have shoulder instability. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeons at Coastal Empire Orthopedics treat many patients with shoulder instability. They’ll help you regain strength in your shoulder.  

You probably didn’t realize that your shoulder is the most flexible joint in your entire body. Think about the movements you make every day; you reach, carry, and lift objects at different angles; your shoulder guides your arm through those motions. Your shoulder helps your arm rotate roughly three-quarters of the circumference of a circle when moving it horizontally. You can also raise it vertically and then move it down to rotate the arm in a complete circle. 

Why does shoulder instability happen? 

Your shoulder joint has two bones that form a ball and socket. It’s supported by the ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding it. Because this joint has the greatest range of motion of any in your body, it’s very susceptible to instability. 

When the ligaments, tendons, cartilage lining (called the labrum), or muscles supporting the shoulder joint become loose or torn, you have shoulder instability. The ball at the end of the upper arm bone, the humerus, slides out of the socket, and you have either a partial dislocation (also called a subluxation) or a full shoulder dislocation. The ball could come out of the front, back, or bottom of the shoulder.

If you’ve been in a car accident or have suffered a traumatic sports injury, you can understand why your shoulder may be unstable. But instability can also occur from overuse. Suppose you’re a factory or warehouse worker who constantly reaches overhead, a tennis or volleyball player, or a baseball pitcher who throws the ball dozens of times a day. In that case, you’re more likely than the general population to have shoulder instability.   

Shoulder instability is widespread in teen and collegiate athletes who play collision sports like football, lacrosse, ice hockey. The physical impact between players raises the risk of instability in young athletes substantially

Sometimes genetics is the culprit in shoulder instability. Your ligaments are just naturally loose, and you may be double-jointed. 

Symptoms of shoulder instability 

You may guess that your shoulder is partially or fully dislocated because of the symptoms you have: 

If you’ve had one shoulder dislocation, you’re more at risk of further dislocations, called chronic shoulder instability. The condition can contribute to joint damage over several years, so it’s crucial to get prompt treatment. 

Our orthopedic surgeons provide a range of effective treatments for shoulder instability. Surgery is only an option after all other strategies haven’t relieved your pain. If you do need surgery, we use minimally invasive techniques so that your recovery proceeds apace. 

To relieve the pain of shoulder instability, and for all of your orthopedic needs, call or book an appointment online with Coastal Empire Orthopedics

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