Instability of the Shoulder

By Andrew Heideman, PT, ATC

Instability of the Shoulder 

Shoulder instability can occur after falls, contact sports such as football, or repetitive overhead sports such as volleyball, baseball and tennis. Occasionally, instability will be atraumatic, and occur with sleep or reaching in certain directions.  To learn more about the shoulder, please go to these 5 Shoulder Symptoms You Should Not Ignore.

Traumatic dislocation can cause damage to the Glenoid Labrum. This is a ring of collagen tissue that surrounds the shoulder socket, helping to deepen it and provide stability.


Image of the Glenoid Labrum of the Shoulder

Initial treatment of shoulder instability after dislocation will range from immediate reduction on the athletic field to an urgent visit to the emergency room to put the joint back in place. Those who experience dislocation on a frequent basis can typically put their shoulder back in place on their own and may seek treatment in the doctor’s office.

Long term treatment can range from therapy to strengthen and balance the shoulder to surgery for repair of the torn tissue. The nature of the dislocation will dictate the recommended treatment. Oftentimes, medical professionals complete studies such as x-rays and MRI’s to assess the extent of the damage.

Some symptoms of labral tear include:

  • Pain in the shoulder, especially with reaching overhead or behind the back
  • A sense of subluxation, or sliding, of the joint with lifting objects
  • Clicking or catching with movement or lifting
  • A sense of numbness or tingling down the arm with throwing

As with any other injury, patients with symptoms that last for longer than 1 week should seek care with one of our JOI shoulder specialists.

If you have recently had a shoulder surgery please watch this helpful video: Dressing the Upper Body After an Injury or Surgery

JOI Rehab Has 12 Clinics That Treat Shoulder Pain

When treating patients for shoulder pain, clinicians typically concentrate on range-of-motion with active and passive mobility exercises. Joint mobilization, which is a hands-on technique to improve mobility of the joints, is another way to treat pain in the shoulder. In some cases, patients will undergo strength training as a way to treat their shoulder pain. Lastly, electrical modalities such as ultrasound and E-Stim (electric stimulation) may be used to remedy the pain.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, call (904) 858-7045

Click here to find a JOI Shoulder Specialist at a location near you or call 904-564-2000.

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