The shoulder joint (glenoid-humeral) is a “ball and cup” joint. Certain individuals may experience the sensation of instability of this joint. In other words, they may feel a slipping, or giving out, of the ball from the cup. Often this may be a result of an injury, such as a dislocation. This form of instability often involves only one shoulder and often occurs only when the shoulder is placed under stress in a certain direction. Other individuals may experience shoulder instability without an injury. This may be a result of physiologic anatomy or a result of weakness involving the stabilizing muscles. This form of instability often involves both shoulders and can occur in multiple directions.
Diagnosis is based on a patient’s history, symptoms and careful physical examination provided by your physician. Specific physical examination maneuvers allow for accurate diagnosis and help to eliminate other sources of shoulder instability. X-rays are obtained to evaluate for associated fractures, calcific deposits, or loose bodies. MRI is often used to identify any structural injuries leading to instability, such as a labral tear.
Treatment will depend on the patient’s history, physical exam, and radiographic findings. Often a trial of conservative care is implemented to include activity modifications and physical therapy. Individuals who experience recurrent bouts of instability, despite conservative care, may elect for surgical intervention. Surgery generally involves an arthroscopic procedure to repair any torn tissues and to stabilize the shoulder. Surgical outcomes are excellent, with an athlete returning to full activities after approximately 6 months.
If you are experiencing shoulder instability, please contact your physician to schedule an evaluation.
Dr. DeSimone (954) 389-5900