Shoulder Instability Causes and Remedies

Shoulder Instability Causes and Remedies

Our shoulder joint is one of the busiest in our entire body, entrusted with the responsibility of movement of the upper limbs. So, the shoulder joint is also the most movable joint in our body facilitating overall movement through rotations and lifting functions. This extended range of motion also makes the shoulder joint vulnerable to dislocation through trauma or overuse. The ball and the socket joint of the shoulder are held together by ligaments, muscles and bones which when overstretched make the shoulder unstable.

The most common symptom to diagnose shoulder instability is the internal sense of the shoulder becoming loose and coming out or the sensation of the shoulder popping back in. There can also be an irritating sensation or discomfort caused by the feeling of the shoulder just hanging in there. Pain is not a necessary factor as not all dislocations are painful but there is an uneasy feeling in the shoulder area often experienced during physical activities.

There can be various causes for a shoulder injury but the most common cause is trauma stemming from any kind of physical activity – a fall, an accident or through contact sports. The injury is very common in contact sports like football, martial arts, skiing, etc and also in sports which involve overuse of the shoulder like throwing in baseball, swimming, swinging in golf, etc. Household accidents may involve trauma caused by a fall from the staircase or bicycle and more. Repetitive strain on the shoulder muscles can lead to instability and finally dislocation. The first severe dislocation of the shoulder might lead to continued dislocations, making it even more unstable.

Treatment Options
The treatment for shoulder instability is provided through both surgical and non-surgical methods depending on the trauma caused and severity of the injury.

  • Surgical methods

Surgery for shoulder instability is considered in rare cases and might be conducted for sportsmen who cannot deal with the recurring dislocation or in cases where the patient has to deal with acute pain due to frequent shoulder dislocation. Shoulder surgery is conducted to reattach the ligament tissue to tighten the elongated ligament causing frequent dislocation. The surgeries performed are either through arthroscopy – tiny instruments, small incisions and surgery through camera aid or through open surgery – bigger incisions and operation performed under direct visualisation.

  • Non – Surgical Methods

The most common surgical methods involve taking rest and giving the shoulder a rest by attaching a shoulder sling to obstruct mobility. Changing the course of physical activity that regularly causes trauma should also be observed.

Drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen reduce pain and swelling in the shoulder joint while it recovers with rest.

The heat and ice therapy is used to accelerate the treatment process. Heat is applied to the shoulder muscle to increase blood flow in the superficial soft tissue and for relaxing tight muscles.

Physical therapy is used to strengthen weak rotator cuff and deltoid through various exercises. Physical therapy is also used to minimise pain and tenderness, establish full range of motion, establish symmetrical capsular mobility and improve dynamic stability. Isotonic resistance exercise program is recommended for aggressive upper body strengthening. It is very important to be sure that you are working on strengthening the muscle groups that stabilize your shoulder. Speak with your therapist about exercises that strengthen those stabilization muscle groups.

If you have the constant uneasy feeling brought about by nagging shoulder pain or instability, visit your physiotherapist for evaluations, for who knows you might have a slightly dislocated shoulder.