Shoulder Instability Causes and Treatment

The shoulder joint possesses a wider range of motion as compared to any other joint in the human body. But this mobility comes with a price – less stability.

This article shares all you need to know about shoulder instability, its causes and treatment options.

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a condition affecting the GH or Glenohumeral joint of your shoulder. If you are wondering what it means, the GH joint is where the collar bone, shoulder blade and the upper arm bone come together. When the tissue holding the upper arm bone in place fails to keep the bone in place, it causes shoulder instability.

The GH joint is a ball-and-socket joint but the socket is much shallower than that in the hip joint, allowing the GH joint very little bony support. It depends upon ligaments and tendons for stability. When one or more of these is damaged, the head of the humerus may start moving too freely and slip out of the socket, resulting in shoulder instability.

Causes of Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can be the result of –

  • direct trauma, for example, falling onto an outstretched arm which can cause dislocation or tears in shoulder ligaments
  • congenital problems
  • repetitive strain and chronic overuse can stretch and weaken the shoulder’s ligaments and tendons, leading to instability

Pain, clicking or popping feeling, numbness during movement and tenderness are common symptoms of shoulder instability.

Treatment for Shoulder Instability

There is no common treatment for cases of shoulder instability. Treatment options would vary depending upon the severity of the underlying conditions and the intensity of pain or disability.

Conservative measures include physician-directed physical therapy and exercises, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and activity modification.

For severe cases, surgery may be required. Two types of surgery are commonly used for the treatment of shoulder instability.

  • Capsular Shift Surgery – This is an option when the joint capsule is too large. The surgeon makes a ‘tuck’ in the connective tissue which heals together, making a tighter joint capsule that holds the joint stable.
  • Bankart Repair Surgery – This is done when the joint has suffered damage to the connective tissue. The surgery repairs the ligaments that stabilize the shoulder.

Both these procedures can be done in a minimally invasive manner, causing less soft tissue trauma, less pain after surgery, and for many patients, faster recovery times.

If you or a loved one is suffering from shoulder pain, stiffness, tenderness or numbness, consult a shoulder orthopedic surgeon immediately for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. Any delay in treatment may worsen your condition and reduce treatment options.

To learn more about shoulder arthritis or to consult the top orthopedic surgeon in Chandler, AZ, call OSPI Arizona at 480-899-4333.

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