What is Shoulder Instability?
Shoulder instability is a chronic condition where your shoulder is loose and may repeatedly slip out of its socket. Since your shoulder joint has an extensive range of motion, it is also vulnerable to dislocation and instability. Shoulder instability is more common in athletes or people who have jobs that require frequent overhead motion.
There are three common causes of shoulder instability: an initial injury that dislocates the shoulder, repetitive strain to the shoulder joint from frequent overhead motion, or less frequently, some people are born with loose shoulder ligaments.
What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Instability?
When determining why your shoulder hurts, it is helpful to consider what part of your shoulder joint is painful or uncomfortable. If your answer to this question is "everywhere" on your shoulder, then shoulder instability may be the answer. Here are the other symptoms and signs of shoulder instability:
- The sensation of a loose shoulder that feels like it could pop out of its socket
- Severe pain in the shoulder joint
- Repeated partial or full shoulder dislocations
- Limited range of motion or pain during overhead motions
- Swelling and bruising of the shoulder
How is Shoulder Instability Diagnosed?
To diagnose shoulder instability, an orthopedic surgeon will perform a physical examination. This may include determining tender spots in your shoulder joint and checking your shoulder's range of motion. Your doctor will also ask you questions to understand your history with shoulder pain.
Your orthopedist may also request an X-ray or MRI to get a better view of your shoulder joint or rule out other possible conditions that cause shoulder pain.
How is Shoulder Instability Treated?
After diagnosis, your orthopedic doctor will develop a treatment plan that will help relieve your symptoms and improve your life quality. At first, a non-surgical approach is considered, which involves:
- Limiting activity that may aggravate shoulder pain
- Taking pain relievers like aspirin or ibuprofen
- Physical therapy
Your orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgery if your case is severe or the non-surgical approach has not improved your condition after months of treatment. There are two surgery options:
Arthroscopic Surgery: First, arthroscopic surgery will be considered. Arthroscopy is a minimally-invasive surgery where your orthopedic surgeon will insert a tiny camera through a small incision to examine the full extent of your shoulder instability. Then, your surgeon can repair torn or loose ligaments. This is an outpatient procedure, so you should be able to go home the day of your surgery.
Open Surgery: Your doctor may decide that open surgery is necessary to correct your shoulder instability fully. After surgery, your medical team will provide a rehabilitation plan to help you recover fully.
How Gustavel Orthopedics Can Help
At Gustavel Orthopedics, our mission is to help improve our patients' quality of life by correcting injuries and relieving pain. Dr. Michael Gustavel is a renowned orthopedic surgeon in Boise, Idaho, who has been practicing since 2002. He provides efficient and quality care to treat conditions, including shoulder instability.
Please contact Gustavel Orthopedics to schedule a consultation regarding your shoulder instability and explore the best treatment plan for you.