Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a chronic condition that causes frequent dislocation and discomfort in the shoulder joint. It typically results from a previous shoulder dislocation. Once the ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding the shoulder become loose or torn, dislocations can occur repeatedly.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of shoulder instability may include:

  • Recurrent shoulder dislocations
  • Persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose or slipping in and out of the joint
  • Shoulder pain or tenderness
  • Decreased shoulder strength
  • Limited range of motion in the shoulder

Diagnosis

Diagnosis of shoulder instability is generally performed by a healthcare professional through:

  • Physical examination: The doctor may move the shoulder in various ways to check for instability and assess the range of motion.
  • Imaging tests: X-rays, MRI or CT scans can provide detailed images of the bones and soft tissues in the shoulder to detect any abnormalities.

Prevention

Preventive strategies for shoulder instability focus on:

  • Regular strength training: Strengthening the shoulder muscles can help prevent injuries and maintain joint stability.
  • Proper technique: Using correct techniques when carrying out activities that involve shoulder movements can reduce joint strain.

Treatment

The treatment plan for shoulder instability usually depends on the patient’s individual circumstances and the severity of symptoms:

  • Non-Surgical Treatments: These may include rest, physiotherapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and corticosteroid injections to manage pain and inflammation.
  • Shoulder brace: A shoulder brace or strap may be recommended to support the shoulder and prevent further dislocation.
  • Surgical Treatments: If non-surgical treatments are insufficient, surgical options include arthroscopy to repair torn or stretched ligaments, or in severe cases, open surgery.
  • Rehabilitation: Following surgery, a rehabilitation program involving physiotherapy is usually required to strengthen the shoulder and enhance its flexibility.

Each approach to treatment aims to alleviate pain, restore shoulder function, and prevent future dislocations. The best treatment plan often depends on individual factors such as age, general health, lifestyle, and severity of symptoms.