Shoulder Instability Specialist

Shoulder Instability Q & A

What is shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability is a common shoulder problem. The shoulder joint is the most mobile of all the major joints. Fortunately, it usually remains stable. However, when birth defects, traumatic damage, or overuse weakens the structure of the shoulder, the bone can slip out of the joint. This weakness is known as shoulder instability and is often associated with a labral tear.

What are the symptoms of shoulder instability?

There are different types of shoulder instability—each with somewhat varied symptoms. Your shoulder will often feel as though it slips partially, or in some cases, entirely out of the joint. In some, the shoulder can get stuck out of the joint. This is known as a shoulder dislocation.

If so, it may require assistance to be put back in place. These symptoms are frequently associated with pain. Sometimes when you have shoulder instability, pain may be the only symptom you feel, and a pain management specialist can help you continue normal activities.

How does shoulder instability occur?

Not all shoulder instability is the same. There are two main types of instability, traumatic and multidirectional:

  • Traumatic instability occurs when a sudden injury damages the muscles and cartilage that support the shoulder joint. This is common in contact sports like football and hockey, and well as in high-risk sports such as mountain biking and snowboarding.
  • Multidirectional instability (MDI) or atraumatic onset instability is caused either by a defect at birth, or by repetitive stress. The condition is common in overhead sports such as gymnastics and swimming. Many patients with MDI are still highly successful athletes, and are not inhibited by the condition.

Without proper attention, medical care, and appropriate lifestyle changes, patients can develop chronic shoulder instability. Because of this, seeking a shoulder instability specialist like the ones at Town Center Orthopedic Associates is vital.

How is shoulder instability diagnosed?

The sports medicine doctors at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates often can diagnose shoulder instability after an examination in the office. In that case, your doctor will perform a shoulder instability test. Then, an MRI of your shoulder is sometimes needed. If so, our staff will help make arrangements for you to get an MRI as efficiently as possible.

How is shoulder instability treated?

Different treatments are appropriate depending on the type of instability you have, how much it affects you, and the various bone or soft tissue injuries that may exist. Sometimes physical therapy is all that is needed. If so, our excellent physical therapists will have you back in the game in no time. In other cases, your shoulder may require surgery to regain stability.

If shoulder instability surgery is necessary, our skilled sports medicine surgeons are proficient in the latest techniques. You will need physical therapy after surgery, and our surgeons and physical therapists will work together to get your shoulder healthy and functional.

To schedule your shoulder instability evaluation, call Town Center Orthopaedic Associates any time at (703) 435-6604, or book online today.

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