Shoulder instability is a common condition that can occur among athletes, active individuals, and the general population. For many, it is the result of a traumatic event or overuse, but for others, it may develop over time without a specific trigger.
Regardless of the cause, it can be painful, frustrating, and disruptive to daily activities. We will take a deeper look at shoulder instability, its symptoms, causes, and treatment options.
Here are the common causes and symptoms of shoulder instability and how to manage this condition.
Common Causes of Shoulder Instability
Shoulder instability can be caused by a variety of factors, but a common cause is a traumatic injury, such as a fall, sports injury, blunt trauma, or car accident. Repetitive overhead motions, such as throwing a ball or lifting weights, can also wear down the shoulder joint and cause instability over time.
Other causes of shoulder instability include connective tissue disorders, genetics, and previous shoulder dislocations.
Common Symptoms of Shoulder Instability
The most common symptom of shoulder instability is a feeling of looseness or instability in the shoulder joint. There may be a sensation of your arm bone slipping or moving out of position, which can cause significant discomfort or even pain. Intense pain in the shoulder can be triggered by certain movements or activities.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the root cause of your shoulder instability.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Shoulder Instability
To diagnose shoulder instability, Dr. Capogna may perform a physical examination and order imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI. Depending on the underlying cause of the instability, treatment options may include physical therapy, bracing or taping, medication, or surgery.
Surgery may be recommended for severe cases of shoulder instability, especially if conservative treatments are ineffective or if the instability is caused by structural issues that cannot be corrected through other means.
Living with Shoulder Instability
Shoulder instability can be challenging to manage, but it does not have to take over your life. With the right treatment plan and self-care measures, you can continue to enjoy many of your daily activities and participate in sports or other physical activities.
If you are struggling with shoulder instability, it’s best to set an appointment with Dr. Brian Capogna about your options for managing your symptoms and improving your quality of life.
How painful is shoulder instability?
The degree of pain experienced with shoulder instability varies from person to person. In mild to moderate cases, the pain may be mild and intermittent.
However, in severe cases, the pain can be excruciating and constant, making it hard to perform simple activities such as dressing or reaching overhead. The pain may also be accompanied by weakness in the shoulder.
Shoulder instability pain can worsen with specific movements or activities such as lifting heavy objects, throwing a ball, or sleeping on the affected side. In athletes, shoulder instability pain can lead to a decline in performance and inability to participate in sports activities.
Additionally, shoulder instability can also impact the patient’s emotional and social well-being due to pain and restricted movements.
Understanding the Different Types of Shoulder Instability
Knowing the various kinds of shoulder instability can aid in effectively managing the condition and choosing suitable treatment options.
Anterior Shoulder Instability
This is the most common type of shoulder instability, which occurs when the humeral head slips or dislocates from the front of the socket. It is often seen in sports like wrestling and football, where the athlete falls on an outstretched arm.
Symptoms of anterior shoulder instability include sharp pain in the front of the shoulder, inability to lift the arm and a feeling of instability. Treatment options for anterior shoulder instability range from conservative management, such as physiotherapy and rest, to surgical treatment like a Bankart repair.
Posterior Shoulder Instability
This type of instability occurs when the humeral head slips out of the socket at the back, which may be caused by a significant blow to the front of the shoulder or repetitive overuse.
Symptoms include pain and weakness in the back of the shoulder, a feeling of instability, and the inability to raise the arm over the head. Treatment for this type of instability involves strengthening exercises, shoulder rehabilitation, and, in severe cases, surgery.
Multidirectional Shoulder Instability
This rare form of shoulder instability occurs when the humeral head dislocates in multiple directions, either anteriorly or posteriorly.
It is common among people with connective tissue disorders like Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. Symptoms include instability and shoulder pain, which is felt when the arm is in a particular position. Treatment involves surgical intervention or rehabilitation with physiotherapy.
Traumatic Shoulder Instability
This type of instability occurs due to a direct injury to the shoulder joint, such as a fall or a car accident. The severity of the flux depends on the extent of the injury caused. Treatment options range from pain management and physiotherapy to surgical intervention.
Atraumatic Shoulder Instability
This is a non-traumatic kind of shoulder instability resulting from repetitive overuse of the shoulder joint. It is often seen in athletes who engage in overhead sports, such as baseball and tennis.
Symptoms include pain, weakness, and a feeling of instability in the shoulder joint. Treatment options include physiotherapy and strengthening exercises, which can help stabilize the shoulder joint.
Don’t let shoulder instability keep you from performing the activities you love. Understanding the causes and symptoms of shoulder instability can help you receive proper treatment and even prevent future injuries.
Remember, if you’re experiencing any signs of shoulder instability, it’s essential to seek the help of a medical professional to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right approach, you can recover and get back to doing what you love without unnecessary pain and inconvenience.