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Specialized Care for Shoulder Instability

With expertise for shoulder injuries, our board-certified and fellowship-trained sports medicine team of shoulder specialists at University Hospitals provide care for both routine and the most complex shoulder instability issues.

Whether you’ve developed shoulder instability from an athletic injury or another cause, you can count on our team of orthopedic doctors for evidence-based treatments. We will stabilize your shoulder and get you back to your sport as effectively as possible.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment

To schedule an appointment, call one of our orthopedic doctors at 216-844-7200 or schedule online today.

How Does Shoulder Instability Occur?

Shoulder instability occurs when the shoulder joint is too loose and slides in or is forced out of the socket. This condition is usually the result of overuse, severe injury or repetitive strain. If left untreated, chronic shoulder instability can lead to more serious injury, shoulder joint pain or arthritis of the shoulder joint.

The following groups of people are more susceptible to shoulder instability and may show symptoms such as shoulder pain, repeated dislocations and a continual loose feeling of the shoulder:

  • Double jointed: Those who are living with a condition called double-jointedness which causes joint laxity, or looseness, may face shoulder instability.
  • Prior shoulder dislocations: For anyone that has experienced a dislocated shoulder previously, this condition may lead to chronic shoulder instability because the ligaments that support the shoulder are torn when the dislocation occurs.
  • Youth sports: Young athletes who participate in baseball pitching, swimming or volleyball may stretch out their shoulder capsule and ligaments and develop recurrent shoulder dislocation.

Initial Conservative Therapy to Stabilize the Shoulder

Initially, conservative treatments such as rest, anti-inflammatory medications and cortisone injections may be recommended to treat shoulder instability.

In addition, our team will most likely prescribe shoulder dislocation rehab. By working with a sports physical therapist, you will learn how to perform various shoulder instability exercises that are designed to improve the range of motion in your shoulder.

Physical therapy will also help you improve the strength and control of the shoulder blade muscles and rotator cuff. By adhering to your physical therapy routine, you’ll be able to prevent your shoulder joint from sliding in the socket.

Minimally Invasive Surgical Repair Capabilities

Our team of orthopedic surgeons are experts in minimally invasive procedures for improved outcomes and faster recovery. We are a high-volume center with the experience you need to restore your shoulder function.

After six to eight weeks of conservative shoulder instability treatments, you will likely be able to resume your normal activities. However, if conservative treatments do not stabilize your shoulder, our team of shoulder specialists may recommend one of these minimally invasive surgical procedures:

  • Bankart repair: This minimally invasive procedure involves stapling or sewing ligaments on the front side of the joint back to their original position. This procedure is usually performed using arthroscopy so that a smaller incision can be used and less healing time is required.
  • Capsular shift: An incision is made on the front of the joint with a capsular shift to tighten the joint capsule. This creates a flap that can be pulled over the front of the capsule and sewed together.
  • Latarjet: A newer procedure, this complex reconstructive surgery is reserved for those patients with a more significant injury or for those patients who had a previous shoulder instability surgery that failed.

Rehabilitation is Key to Success

Regardless of whether our UH shoulder specialists use conservative treatments or surgical intervention to treat your shoulder instability, rehabilitation will be essential. If conservative treatments were effective, the goal of rehabilitation will be to strengthen the shoulder blade muscles and rotator cuff so your shoulder will become more stable. You’ll likely perform exercises with a physical therapist and eventually follow a home program to keep your muscles flexible and strong.

With shoulder instability surgery, you will wear a sling to support and protect your shoulder for a few weeks. At first, rehabilitation will focus on controlling your pain and swelling from surgery. Over time, the focus will shift and you’ll incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises into your routine.

Rehabilitation will also focus on educating you on how to perform everyday tasks without putting too much stress on your shoulder. Additionally, you’ll learn a variety of tactics that can help you prevent chronic shoulder instability.