Shoulder Instability Treatment

The Shoulder Center
at Modern Orthopedics of New Jersey

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72 Route 17 North
Paramus, NJ 07652


2025 Hamburg Turnpike
STE C, Wayne, NJ 07470


3799 US-46
#207, Parsippany, NJ 07054

You expect your shoulder joint to be stable and reliable, and when it’s not you experience the associated pain and frustration. If your shoulder joint is prone to partial or full dislocations, shoulder instability treatment may help.

What Does Shoulder Instability Treatment Involve?

Shoulder instability treatment involves restoring your shoulder joint to a strong and stable state. The information below provides an overview of the condition’s causes, symptoms, and treatment:

Anatomy of the Shoulder Joint

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) to the scapula (shoulder blade). Various muscles, ligaments, and cartilage (labrum) keep the humeral head secured within the glenoid cavity (a shallow socket in the scapula).

When the humeral head is moved out of place, this is known as a subluxation or dislocation. A shoulder joint that is prone to recurrent subluxation or dislocation is considered to be an unstable shoulder.  Patients may feel that the arm gives way and is suddenly “dead” at the side or they may feel clunking and shifting of the ball of the shoulder.

Common Symptoms of Shoulder Instability

Chronic shoulder instability includes the following symptoms, which may come and go depending on the circumstances:

  • Pain during specific movements or activities
  • General looseness in the shoulder joint or “giving out” during use
  • Shoulder weakness
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Decreased range of motion in the shoulder joint

Diagnostic Tests for Shoulder Instability

To diagnose shoulder instability, your orthopedic surgeon will usually begin with a detailed medical history and physical examination. For more detailed information, an MRI or CT scan may be ordered. Occasionally, the shoulder may also be examined under anesthesia with an arthroscope (a surgical tool with a light and camera that is inserted through a small incision).

Consultation With a New Jersey-Based Orthopedic Specialist

Are you living with chronic shoulder instability? The team of award-winning surgeons at Modern Orthopaedics of New Jersey can help to effectively treat the issue for good. Contact our clinic today!

Treatment Options for Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can be treated in a variety of different ways. Both nonsurgical and surgical treatment options can be effective.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Many people, particularly older, less active patients, recover completely from a shoulder dislocation without experiencing recurrent instability. Many more experience recurrent instability, but recover fully with nonsurgical treatment options. These can include:

  • Resting the shoulder joint and making lifestyle modifications during the recovery period
  • Icing and managing pain with anti-inflammatory medications
  • Seeing a physical therapist and consistently doing exercises to strengthen muscles and ligaments

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment for shoulder instability can involve either arthroscopic or open surgery.

In cases where a small tear to the shoulder capsule is the root cause of instability, arthroscopic surgery can often provide an effective and minimally invasive solution.

A Bankart repair is the surgical procedure used in cases where more extensive damage to the shoulder capsule has occurred. It involves reattaching the torn labrum and capsule to the glenoid rim by drilling holes in the bone and placing secure stitches through them.  This “tightens up” the loose part of the joint then therapy will be used after healing to get back functional motion.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Main Cause of Shoulder Instability?

The main causes of shoulder instability include:

  • A sudden injury, such as falling on an outstretched arm, that tears or stretches ligaments
  • Repetitive motions, such as throwing a baseball, that loosen the shoulder capsule
  • Genetic conditions, such as hyperlaxity (characterized by loose ligaments)

Can Physical Therapy Fix Shoulder Instability?

Yes, but not always. In some cases, physical therapy is all that is needed to fully treat shoulder instability. Even when surgical treatment is required, physical therapy is still an important part of the rehabilitation process.

How Do You Strengthen Shoulder Instability?

Shoulder instability exercises mainly involve strengthening the rotator cuff muscles and scapular muscles. For more information, speak directly with your orthopedic surgeon.

 Our Awarded

Peter DeNoble, MD

Peter DeNoble, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

David Ratliff, MD, FAAOS

Alejandro Morales-Restrepo, MD

Hand, Wrist, Shoulder & Elbow Surgeon

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Modern Orthopaedics specializes in conditions and treatments of the shoulder, elbow, hand/wrist, hip, knee and foot/ankle with locations in Wayne, Parsippany, and Paramus, NJ.


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