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The design of the shoulder glenohumeral joint allows for a wide range of motion, but it can also become very unstable for a variety of reasons. The rotator cuff, labrum, ligaments and shoulder capsule help stabilize the shoulder joint, keeping the humeral “ball” inside the glenoid “socket.” Shoulder instability occurs when the mechanisms keeping the shoulder joint together fail, resulting in multiple subluxations, dislocations and other issues. The orthopedic team at DOCS Health offers advanced options in shoulder instability treatment at our medical center in Los Angeles.

There is not one specific cause of shoulder instability. Multiple components help keep the shoulder joint together and working correctly. If there are tears in the labrum or ligaments, the shoulder joint can be unstable. Genetic factors can result in a shoulder joint that is loose and prone to subluxation (partial dislocation) or shoulder dislocation. Once a shoulder dislocation occurs, it is more likely that shoulder instability will occur.

Symptoms of Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is linked to repetitive strain, dislocations or injuries to the joint. Athletes, especially those in throwing or racket sports, are more prone to shoulder instability. Individuals who have loose shoulder joints or are “double jointed” are at higher risk for shoulder instability. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Shoulder pain
  • A slipping sensation in the shoulder joint
  • Multiple dislocations or subluxations
  • Arm feels heavy or like it is just “hanging” from the socket
  • Loss of control when throwing or swinging the arm

The result of shoulder instability is increased dislocations that can cause more damage to the shoulder joint. Treatment begins with conservative options to relieve pain and inflammation while strengthening the shoulder. Physical therapy, cortisone injections and other treatments can be effective at relieving shoulder instability symptoms. When conservative treatments are not effective, surgical repair of the damaged tissues may be required to restore shoulder stability.

If you have symptoms of shoulder instability, treatment is available at DOCS Health. Contact our Los Angeles orthopedic clinic to schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists.