Shoulder Instability

Are you feeling pain within your shoulder? You might be suffering from shoulder instability or another shoulder injury. 

Suffering from shoulder pain isn’t fun, but the right treatment can help relieve the pain. Dr. John Andrachuk offers the help you need with years of experience providing the right treatments for shoulder instability. Dr. Andrachuk is the right choice for your Orthopedic Sports Medicine surgeon in Atlanta. 

What is Shoulder Instability?

When the structures around the shoulder joint stop working properly, it’s known as shoulder instability. This type of injury causes the ball to be loose inside the socket. When this happens, the ball might slide partially out of place, which is called shoulder subluxation. If the ball comes all the way out of the socket, it’s called a shoulder dislocation. 

What Causes Shoulder Instability?

Shoulder instability is most common in young athletes, double-jointed patients, and those that have suffered a prior shoulder injury. It’s common for those suffering from a past shoulder dislocation to struggle with chronic shoulder instability. 

Young athletes may suffer an injury from a full-contact sport or from overexerting the shoulder during swimming, baseball, or volleyball. It’s not uncommon for athletes to suffer a shoulder subluxation or multidirectional instability. 

Double-jointed patients may also end up with a loose shoulder joint. When a patient already has a double-jointedness or joint laxity, they may struggle with chronic shoulder instability.

Repetitive strain put on the should by anybody in these three groups may lead to shoulder instability. It can impact anybody, especially those participating in athletic activities.

Shoulder Instability Symptoms

The most common symptoms you will notice with should instability include:

  • Pain in the shoulder
  • A feeling of a loose joint or the shoulder slipping in and out of the joint
  • A pins and needles feeling if any damage was done to the blood vessels or nerves
  • A deformed-looking shoulder without the normal smoothness
  • Swelling

These symptoms are common and the shoulder may also give out in the middle of activity. You should never try to put the shoulder back in place yourself if it becomes dislocated. See a doctor immediately and let a professional provide the proper treatment for should instability.

How Shoulder Instability is Diagnosed

A physical examination is the first step in diagnosing shoulder instability. Your doctor will likely ask about your medical history and symptoms. You may also be asked to perform a series of movements with your shoulder to assess the range of motion.

Along with a physical exam, your doctor will likely order X-rays and an MRI scan is not out of the question. The X-rays will help to show if any bones have been injured within the joint, while the MRI will help to show detailed images of the soft tissues around the joint.

Shoulder Instability Treatment

The treatment option depends on the degree of shoulder instability you’re dealing with. Some nonsurgical treatments options are available including:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) – Your doctor will probably prescribe NSAIDs to help with the pain and swelling.
  • Activity Modification – Changes to your lifestyle and activities may help to keep the shoulder from becoming injured again.
  • Physical Therapy – A common treatment option for shoulder instability, physical therapy helps to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder to keep it stable. 

If you’ve suffered a traumatic dislocation, nonsurgical treatment options might not be used. You may have torn one of the structures holding the shoulder in place, such as the shoulder labrum. If this is the case, you will likely need surgery to repair the tear.

Shoulder Instability Surgery Options

Bankart Repair

A surgery used to repair the shoulder labrum when it becomes torn is known as a Bankart repair. This type of surgery is common in younger patients with a traumatic dislocation of the shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Surgery

Patients over the age of 30 typically tear the rotator cuff. If this is the case, the most common surgery is a rotator cuff surgery. This type of surgery will help to repair the tear in the rotator cuff.

Arthroscopy Shoulder Instability Surgery

When soft tissues need to be repaired due to a shoulder injury, an arthroscopic procedure can be used. This minimally invasive surgery allows the surgeon to look inside your shoulder and use a pencil-thin instrument to repair the soft tissue damage.

Open Shoulder Instability Surgery

If arthroscopic surgery isn’t an option, open surgery may be necessary to repair the shoulder injury. This type of surgery will involve making an incision over the surgery to access the damaged area.

Shoulder Instability Recovery

After surgery, your shoulder will be immobilized in a sling temporarily. When your doctor allows the sling to be removed, you will start a rehabilitation program including exercises to strengthen the shoulder and restore range of motion. 

The immobilization period usually lasts four to six weeks, while full healing will take about 12 to 16 weeks. You will likely spend about four to six weeks doing passive exercise and another four to six weeks doing active exercise to get your shoulder back to normal. 

Complete recovery and a return to full strength can take six to nine months after surgery. A commitment to the rehabilitation process can help your shoulder heal faster.

While you may experience improved shoulder strength and less instability, your shoulder may never return to normal. Pain relief is a benefit of shoulder instability surgery and you will likely gain range of motion back. However, you will be at risk of another shoulder injury without a change to your lifestyle.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

With plenty of experience diagnosing and treating shoulder instability injuries, Dr. Andrachuk can help relieve your shoulder pain. If you’ve been dealing with pain or a feeling of your shoulder slipping out of the joint, it’s time to seek medical help. Dr. Andrachuk provides the latest arthroscopic and minimally invasive treatment options, along with more conservative options. Contact us today and schedule your in-person or telemedicine appointment!