Shoulder Instability

What is shoulder instability, and how is it treated?

Your shoulder is a complex joint with an enormous range of motion. 

However, that great range of motion also increases your risk of injuries such as shoulder instability, also known as dislocation. 

The orthopedic specialists at OrthoNeuro in Columbus, Ohio, offer expert diagnosis and treatment, including nonsurgical and surgical options. 

If you’re concerned about shoulder instability, call the practice or make an appointment online today.

What Is Shoulder Instability?

Shoulder instability occurs when you have a chronic dislocation, an injury where the humeral head slips out of the glenoid socket in your shoulder blade. 

Shoulder dislocations can occur because of a sudden, forceful injury or the wear and tear that occurs with overuse.

There are three types of shoulder dislocations:


Anterior dislocations are the most common. 

Your upper arm twists and forces the head of the humerus out of the shoulder socket to the front of your body. 

Anterior dislocations are most common among young athletes who make repetitive overhead movements and adults who fall onto an outstretched arm.


With a posterior dislocation, your humeral head is forced out of the socket and slides toward the back of your body.

This type of shoulder instability usually results from a seizure or electrical shock, although a blow to the front of your shoulder can also cause this injury.


Inferior dislocations are the least common and occur when your upper arm bone moves down and out of the glenoid socket.

These injuries can cause additional damage to the shoulder capsule, ligaments, and rotator cuff tendons leading to connective tissue disorders, Bankart lesions, and rotator cuff tears.

What Are Shoulder Instability Symptoms?

An unstable shoulder joint causes shoulder pain and might feel loose or like it’s slipping in and out of the joint. 

Depending on the severity of your condition, you might feel like your arm is “just hanging there” or has multidirectional instability (MDI). 

How Do You Test for Shoulder Instability?

The shoulder specialists at OrthoNeuro use various tests to diagnose shoulder dislocation. 

During a physical exam, they will review your symptoms and ask for details about any acute injuries that could have caused your symptoms. 

Your physician will feel your shoulder for inflammation and deformity and may guide you through some assisted movements so they can feel how your shoulder joint works and identify any pain or abnormal movements.

The doctors also use X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to examine the inside of your shoulder, including the bones, muscles, and connective tissue.

What Are the Treatment Options for Shoulder Instability?

The physicians at OrthoNeuro offer highly personalized shoulder instability treatment, often implementing sports medicine techniques with traditional orthopedics.

The first step includes nonsurgical therapies such as:

Activity Modification

Your doctor works with you to identify the movements and activities that exacerbate your symptoms and how you can change your lifestyle to avoid those activities.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

NSAIDs, including over-the-counter medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen, can reduce swelling and pain in your shoulder.

Physical Therapy

You might also benefit from physical therapy to strengthen your shoulder muscles. 

Do I Need Surgery to Repair Shoulder Instability and Dislocation?

The shoulder specialists at OrthoNeuro consider each shoulder dislocation case independently. 

They typically only recommend surgery if the injury is severe and doesn’t respond to other treatments. Your physician might also recommend shoulder surgery if you have chronic shoulder instability.

What Are the Surgical Repair Options?

Our shoulder surgeons offer minimally invasive arthroscopic procedures as well as traditional open surgery. 

Your orthopedic surgeon will make recommendations based on your specific needs and answer your questions, helping you make the best decision about your treatment.

Call OrthoNeuro today or make an appointment online if your shoulder joint is too loose or you have other signs of instability.

Make an Appointment with an OrthoNeuro Shoulder Specialist Today!

If you have been experiencing chronic shoulder instability, schedule an appointment with one of our Board Certified Orthopedic Specialists at one of our 7 convenient locations throughout Greater Columbus. 

We will evaluate your unique lifestyle and goals to determine which type of treatment is best for you.

Shoulder Specialists

“8 weeks after bad rotator cuff surgery and I am doing well thank you for the great service“