Shoulder Instability

Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa

Orthopedic Surgery located in Tulsa, OK

Your shoulder joints have the greatest range of motion of all your joints — but that wide field of movement also means that the joint is vulnerable to damage like shoulder instability. At Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons understand the unique challenges of shoulder instability. They provide comprehensive care to help you resume your regular activities as fast as possible. Book an appointment online or call the office for shoulder instability help now.

Shoulder Instability Q & A

What is shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability is a chronic condition in which your shoulder joint repeatedly dislocates, meaning the humeral head (the ball part of the upper arm bone) moves partly or completely out of the shoulder socket. 

Even if your humeral head moves back into place naturally, the initial dislocation puts you at increased risk for shoulder instability.

With shoulder instability, your shoulder essentially moves more than it should, and this can cause a number of physical issues.

What are the signs of shoulder instability?

The symptoms of shoulder instability include:

  • Feeling that your shoulder is giving out
  • Shoulder feels loose
  • Sensation of your shoulder hanging
  • Feeling of sliding in and out of the joint
  • Pain

Shoulder instability symptoms may be sporadic, only occurring when you move your shoulder. Your specific symptoms may vary with the root cause of the instability. 

What causes shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability can be a result of trauma, such as a fall or car accident. It can also occur with chronic shoulder overuse. It’s a common injury for throwing athletes like baseball pitchers. 

Also, shoulder instability may be a congenital condition. For example, some people are born with looser-than-normal ligaments (hyperlaxity) that allow excessive movement in the shoulder joint. 

How is shoulder instability diagnosed?

Shoulder instability diagnosis starts with a comprehensive shoulder exam, in which your doctor moves your arm gently to assess joint function. They may ask you to make specific arm and shoulder movements as well. 

The physical exam, along with a medical history review and symptom assessment, can help your doctor determine whether you have shoulder instability. You may need imaging tests, including X-rays or MRI, to verify the diagnosis. 

How is shoulder instability treated?

Successful shoulder instability treatment requires a highly specific approach, based on your situation and underlying problems. Initial shoulder instability treatment usually includes a combination of nonsurgical approaches, including:

  • Physical therapy
  • Bracing to immobilize and stabilize your shoulder 
  • Activity modifications 
  • Strengthening exercises at home

If you try nonsurgical approaches but your shoulder instability persists, your doctor may recommend surgery. During surgery, they typically can use tiny incisions to access the shoulder joint and then repair damaged tissue using specialized, thin surgical instruments. 

For individualized care in a relaxed private atmosphere, call the Premier Orthopedic Specialists of Tulsa office or use the scheduling link to book your appointment now.