Shoulder instability is when the upper arm bone dislocates or moves out of the socket due to weak ligaments or damaged tissues. Shoulder instability can cause significant pain and discomfort, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks. It can also lead to recurring dislocations and long-term damage to the shoulder joint. Therefore, understanding the signs of shoulder instability is crucial to effectively diagnose and treat this condition.

Common Causes of Shoulder Instability

Various factors, including traumatic injuries, repetitive stress and anatomical abnormalities, can cause shoulder instability.

Traumatic injuries, such as falls or direct blows to the shoulder, can damage the ligaments and muscles that keep the upper arm bone in place.

Repetitive stress, such as throwing a baseball or swimming for hours daily, can cause wear and tear on the shoulder joint, leading to instability over time.

Anatomical abnormalities, such as loose ligaments or shallow shoulder sockets, can also contribute to shoulder instability.

Signs of Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can present itself in a variety of ways, including:

  • Recurring Dislocations: One of the most common signs of shoulder instability is recurring dislocations. A dislocation is when the upper arm bone slips out of the socket, often due to weak ligaments or damaged tissues. If you experience recurring dislocations, it is crucial to seek medical attention to prevent long-term damage to the shoulder joint.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Shoulder instability can cause considerable pain or discomfort, especially when lifting or reaching overhead. The pain’s severity can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation, worsening over time if left untreated.
  • Weakness or Instability: If your shoulder is weak or unstable, it may indicate instability. This can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks, such as carrying groceries or lifting objects above your head.
  • Popping or Clicking Sensation: A popping or clicking sensation in the shoulder joint can indicate instability. This may occur when the upper arm bone slips out of the socket, causing the joint to pop or click.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Shoulder instability can also result in a limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. You may find it difficult to move your arm in specific directions or experience stiffness in the joint.

If you experience one of these shoulder instability symptoms, seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare provider can diagnose shoulder instability through physical examination and imaging tests, like MRI scans or X-rays. Treatment for shoulder instability may include physical therapy, medication or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.

Shoulder Instability Treatment

If you suspect shoulder instability, seek medical attention promptly. Early intervention can prevent long-term damage to the shoulder joint and improve your quality of life. You can rely on AC Joint Separation Specialist Dr. Steven Struhl for diagnosis and treatment. He is considered one of the country’s best shoulder surgeons and has helped many patients overcome shoulder instability. Call 855-906-7246 to schedule an appointment today.


Posted on behalf of Steven Struhl MD