Shoulder Instability Specialist

Coastal Empire Orthopedics

Orthopedic Surgeons & Sports Medicine located in Savannah, GA

Shoulder instability is a common problem many people experience following a shoulder dislocation. With expert treatment from orthopedic surgeon Jonathan Shults, MD, you can strengthen your shoulder and prevent further dislocations. At Coastal Empire Orthopedics in Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Shults provides both nonsurgical treatments and advanced forms of minimally invasive surgery to treat shoulder instability. Learn more by calling Coastal Empire Orthopedics today or scheduling your appointment online.

Shoulder Instability Q & A

What is shoulder instability? 

Shoulder instability is a problem that causes your shoulder joint to slip out of place, often repeatedly.

Your shoulder consists of two bones that form a ball and socket joint. Your upper arm bone (humerus) fits into a socket called the glenoid in your shoulder blade (scapula). Tough connective tissues make up the shoulder capsule, a system of ligaments that keeps the ball-shaped head of the humerus centered in your glenoid socket.

The joint also has a network of strong tendons and muscles surrounding it called the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff holds everything in place and allows you to move your arm in a wide range of motion.

Shoulder instability is a chronic weakness in your shoulder joint that makes it more likely that your humerus comes away from the glenoid socket.

What causes shoulder instability?

There are two main causes of shoulder instability:

Shoulder dislocation

A dislocation occurs when the humerus comes out of the glenoid, either partially (subluxation) or completely. This often damages the shoulder capsule and causes the rotator cuff to stretch or tear as well. The most likely cause of a dislocated shoulder is severe injury or trauma.

The cartilage around the rim of the glenoid, which is called the labrum, can also tear. Dislocations, rotator cuff tears, and labral tears are all common sports injuries. A labral tear is also known as a Bankart lesion.

Repetitive strain

It’s possible to have shoulder instability without suffering a dislocation. In these cases, loose ligaments are usually the problem. Most often, the ligaments slacken because of repetitive strain, which is a common problem for regular swimmers and tennis players. Working with your arms above your head for long periods can have the same effect.

Some people have naturally loose ligaments, a condition often known as being double-jointed. This can cause the shoulder to dislocate in all directions without you suffering any traumatic incident.

How is shoulder instability treated?


Treatment for shoulder instability usually begins with nonsurgical options. It can take several months, but many patients find this approach successful.

Dr. Shults creates a treatment program for you based on using physical therapies to strengthen the muscles around your shoulder and improve joint control. You can take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to ease pain and inflammation. You must also avoid activities that make your shoulder instability worse. 

You could also benefit from regenerative orthopedic techniques such as stem cell therapy, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy, and amniotic injections.

If, after several months, your symptoms aren’t improving, Dr. Shults might suggest surgery for your shoulder instability. He can use minimally invasive arthroscopic techniques to repair the soft tissues. It’s also possible to surgically repair Bankart lesions by using sutures and anchors to reattach your ligaments to your bones.

If you’re having problems with a shoulder that won’t stay securely in place, call Coastal Empire Orthopedics today or book an appointment online.