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Shoulder Instability

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a chronic condition that causes frequent dislocations of the shoulder joint.

Causes

A dislocation occurs when the end of the humerus (the ball portion) separates completely from the glenoid (the socket portion) of the shoulder. A partial dislocation is referred to as a subluxation whereas a complete separation is referred to as a dislocation.

Risk Factors

The risk factors that increase the chances of developing shoulder instability include:

  • Injury or trauma to the shoulder
  • Falling on an outstretched hand
  • Repetitive overhead sports such as baseball, swimming, volleyball, or weightlifting
  • Loose or lax shoulder ligaments

Symptoms

The common symptoms of shoulder instability include pain with certain movements of the shoulder; popping or grinding sound may be heard or felt, swelling and bruising of the shoulder may be seen immediately following subluxation or dislocation. Visible deformity and loss of function of the shoulder occurs after subluxation or sensation changes such as numbness or even partial paralysis can occur after the dislocation because of pressure on nerves and blood vessels.

Conservative (Non-operative) Treatment

The goal of conservative treatment for shoulder instability is to restore stability, strength, and full range of motion. Conservative treatment measures may include the following:

  • Closed Reduction: Following a dislocation, Professor Bain can manipulate the shoulder joint, usually under anaesthesia, realigning it into proper position. Surgery may be necessary to restore normal function depending on your situation
  • Medications: Over the counter pain medications and NSAID’s can help reduce the pain and swelling. Rest: Rest the injured shoulder and avoid activities that require overhead motion. A sling may be worn for 2 weeks to facilitate healing

Surgery

When the conservative treatment options fail to relieve shoulder instability, Professor Bain may recommend shoulder stabilisation surgery. Shoulder stabilisation surgery is done to improve stability and function to the shoulder joint and prevent recurrent dislocations. It can be performed arthroscopically, depending on your situation, with much smaller incisions. Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into a joint to evaluate and treat of the condition.  The torn ligaments can be repaired (stitched) back to the glenoid bone and secured into “bone anchors”, which are small plastic plugs.