The ball and socket joint of the shoulder is designed for a wide range of motion. While this allows the arms to reach and swivel in many different directions, overuse or a shoulder injury can allow the ball to come out of the shallow socket. A partial slip out of the socket is called a subluxation; when the ball of the humerus comes completely out of the socket it is a dislocation. When these slips and movements occur randomly, this is shoulder instability, which may need treatment or surgery.
Shoulder instability can occur when the ligament that hold the ball of the humerus in the socket become stretched, allowing movement. It can also be caused by a torn labrum or bone loss in the socket. When the joint is loose and unstable, it is more likely to dislocation or suffer from subluxation repeatedly. Injuries to or overuse of the shoulder joint are often the causes of instability.
Conservative treatment for shoulder instability can involve reduction of the joint or manipulating the joint back into place. Ice, rest and anti-inflammatory medications can be used to heal the joint. However, if the joint continues to be unstable, it may need surgical repair.
Surgical Treatment for Shoulder Instability
The goal of shoulder instability surgery is to prevent further dislocations or subluxations. The joint must be carefully examined to determine what is causing the instability. Many shoulder surgeries for stabilization can be accomplished through arthroscopy. Ligaments can be tightened through a capsule shift; labral repairs can help stabilize the shoulder. If there is bone loss, a bone graft may be needed to create a tighter fit for the ball and socket.
If you have suffered from shoulder instability, there are treatment options available to reduce pain and improve your shoulder mobility. Contact orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kerisimasi Reynolds at his practice in San Jose to schedule a consultation for your shoulder issues.