Recognizing the Signs of Shoulder Instability

As the most flexible joint in your body, your shoulder gives you the ability to lift, reach, and carry things in your daily life. It’s made of three bones that work together in a ball-and-socket joint.

The shoulder joint is held together with tendons and ligaments, but because it has such an extended range of motion, it’s susceptible to dislocation. A shoulder dislocates when the arm bone slips out of the shoulder socket. Common symptoms include pain, restricted mobility, and swelling.

You might suffer a shoulder dislocation as a result of an acute injury, but it could also be a symptom of a chronic condition called shoulder instability. Shoulder instability develops from overuse or injury and often causes repeated dislocations, weakness, and pain.

At Upper Extremity Specialists of Synergy Orthopedic Specialists Medical Group, our team is highly trained in diagnosing and treating shoulder injuries. If you suspect you could be suffering from shoulder instability, read on to learn how to recognize the signs of this common condition.

Symptoms of shoulder instability

Some people develop shoulder instability after trauma that dislocates their shoulder. Once dislocated, it’s easier to suffer more dislocations in the future. Other people may never experience a dislocation, but they could have loose shoulder ligaments contributing to shoulder instability and pain.

You could have chronic shoulder instability if you experience:

Shoulder instability may make your shoulder feel loose or like it’s just hanging there. You might feel it slipping in and out of the socket or feel weakness when trying to use your arm.

Shoulder instability can cause pain and swelling that affects your range of motion, but it may also contribute to joint deterioration over time. The good news is that orthopedic care can improve joint health and reduce or eliminate your symptoms.

Treatment for shoulder instability

At Upper Extremity Specialists, we offer comprehensive orthopedic evaluations for patients with shoulder pain. Our team will review your medical history, including any history of injury, and discuss your symptoms with you. 

In your evaluation, we may perform a physical exam to check your shoulder’s range of motion and strength. We may also recommend medical imaging, such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm a diagnosis. 

If shoulder instability is diagnosed, our team generally begins by recommending conservative treatments first. We often recommend physical therapy for people with shoulder instability, because targeted, controlled exercises can build strength in tendons and muscles to improve joint stability. Physical therapy for shoulder instability can reduce the chances for dislocations and associated issues.

If you’re still suffering from shoulder instability after trying physical therapy or other conservative methods, we may recommend more advanced treatments. Surgery for shoulder instability can restore the structure and integrity of the damaged ligaments, tendons, and muscles. 

You don’t have to suffer frequent shoulder dislocations and joint weakness. Learn more about the treatments available for shoulder instability and get a personalized plan that’s right for you. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Upper Extremity Specialists today.

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