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What is Shoulder Instability? Comprehensive Information from Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston

Shoulder instability occurs when the muscles, ligaments and tendons in the shoulder joint become injured or wear down over time, allowing the bones to shift out of place. Minor instability can cause pain and weakness, while more severe instability can potentially even allow the joint to dislocate (pop out of its socket).

What causes shoulder instability?

Several things can cause the shoulder joint to become unstable. As people age, their connective tissues gradually lose some of their strength and resiliency. For instance, the muscles may weaken and become less capable of keeping the shoulder bones in their respective sockets, while the tendons that connect the bones to the muscles may slowly wear out as a result of repetitive stress. Because routine wear and tear is a common cause of shoulder instability, this condition is especially prevalent among athletes who lift heavy weights or frequently go through throwing motions.

Other times, shoulder instability occurs as the result of a sudden injury, such as a fall or a collision. Sometimes, damage to other parts of the shoulder (e.g. a labral tear) can also make the joint less stable.

Shoulder instability treatment

In some cases, conservative therapies may be able to increase a person’s strength and restore his or her range of motion. Physical therapy is often recommended, as is activity modification. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can also be used to relieve any pain that may occur as a result of soft tissue damage.

For more severe instability, surgery may be recommended to repair torn or weakened ligaments. Minor issues can often be corrected through minimally invasive (arthroscopic) surgery, while more severe damage may require an open approach.

At Advanced Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine of Houston, Texas, we provide a comprehensive range of shoulder injury treatments. When treating shoulder instability, we typically start with the least invasive approach, then make modifications as needed throughout recovery and rehabilitation. You can access all of the therapies you might need under one roof, making the process as simple as possible. To learn more, contact us today.