Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is the most frequently occurring dislocation of the shoulder joint. The common reason behind dislocation is when the end of the humerus dislocates partially or wholly from the glenoid of the shoulder.

The partial dislocation of the shoulder is known as subluxation. The complete separation of the shoulder is called dislocation.

Common Symptoms of Shoulder Instability

Some of the most common shoulder instability symptoms include the following.

  • Pain in the shoulder with certain movements.
  • Grinding or popping sound can be heard or felt.
  • The swelling or pain of the shoulder immediately after subluxation or dislocation.
  • The loss of function in the shoulder or visible deformity.
  • Shoulder dislocation caused by the pressure on nerves and blood vessels.

These are the common risk factors which include the chance of shoulder instability.

  • Loose shoulder ligaments or an enlarged capsule.
  • The repetitive overhead sports including swimming, volleyball, baseball, or weightlifting.
  • The fall of the patient on their outstretched hand.
  • An injury or trauma to the shoulder.

Treatments for Shoulder Instability

The more common conservative treatments are administered to help restore stability, strength and ensure full range of motion. Some of the conservative treatment options include the following.


The doctor may suggest the patient OTC medications to help reduce the pain and swelling. In the case of extreme pain, the doctor may also recommend the use of steroidal injections to the patient.


Rest can also work at times, avoiding those activities which make the shoulder unstable or require overhead motion. The doctor may also advise wearing a sling for 2 weeks to facilitate healing.


The application of ice pack to the affected area of the shoulder for 20 minutes every hour.

Closed Reduction

Following a dislocation, your doctor might manipulate the shoulder joint under anesthesia to re-align it back to its proper position. Sometimes, surgery may also help restore normal function of the patient’s shoulder.


If all the conservative treatment options for shoulder have been exhausted and they fail to give any relief to the patient, then the orthopedic doctor may opt for surgery. The shoulder stabilization surgery helps improve the stability of the shoulder. The surgeon may choose to do arthroscopy depending on the patient’s health situation via smaller incisions.

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure performed by surgeons using a small flexible tube with light and video camera at its one end. The camera is inserted by the surgeon to assess and treat the condition. Most of the orthopedic surgeons go for arthroscopy because it involves smaller incisions, less painful for the patient, and has minimal soft tissue trauma.