What is Instability of the Shoulder?

Instability of the shoulder is a condition that occurs when the shoulder tissue (ligaments and labrum) become so stretched that they can no longer keep the ball of the humorous within the socket joint.

What causes it?

Instability of the shoulder Plano TX is mainly caused by repetitive stress, as in the case of sports like swimming, basketball, and volleyball.

It can also be as a result of an injury. A significant injury that results in a dislocation may cause subsequent dislocations. Each time your shoulder dislocates, it puts more stress on the tissues holding it together. After some time, these tissues may become too weak, leading to instability of the shoulder Plano TX.

What are its symptoms?

• Substantial pain due to injury
• Frequent repetitive shoulder dislocations
• A consistent sensation of the shoulder feeling lose, weak, and slipping in and out of place.


First, a doctor performs a physical examination of your shoulder. In this examination, the doctor determines the extent and direction of your shoulder injury or instability.

Next, an x-ray is conducted on the injured shoulder to ascertain the extent of the injury. Since the x-ray only checks the bone structures, further testing is needed to determine the extent of damage in the ligaments capsules.

For this, a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or a Computed Tomography (CT) scan is conducted on the shoulder.

Patients who suffer from repeated shoulder dislocations must have a CT scan done on them when they come in with such an injury. This is because a large amount of their bone tissue is often missing. The bone tissue contributes to the stability of the joint.


After it has been determined that the shoulder is “unstable” or dislodged, it is reset, and one is advised to avoid aggravating activities for a couple of days.

If there is too much pain, especially after traumatic dislocation, painkillers are administered. A sling is also used to provide temporary support and immobilization. Some patients may also require shoulder bracing.

A range of motion exercise is started once the pain and swelling subside. The exercise program is conducted under the supervision of a trained physical therapist.

Applying an ice bag over the shoulder before and after exercise could help reduce pain and swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are also prescribed to ease pain and inflammation. Some of the commonly used NSAIDs include Advil, Motrin, and Nuprin.

When is surgery necessary?

Physical therapy helps restore the strength and motion of the shoulder. However, the shoulder may still be too loose and unstable.

Patients who do not want to quit the strenuous activities that brought about the injury often seek surgery to solve the isinstability of the shoulder permanently.

After the surgery, motion returns after six to eight weeks. It may take up to three months for full strength to return.

Why come to us?

At Plano Orthopedic Sports Medicine & Spine Center, we specialize in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. Our team consists of eleven board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician.

Bottom line

Instability of the shoulder is pervasive among athletes and workers who use their shoulder strength a lot. It can sometimes be mistaken as a dislocated shoulder. Whenever you experience any of the symptoms that we have discussed above, you should see your physician. Early diagnosis and treatment prevents further damage and enables you to get back to your regular activities sooner.


Call POSMC today!

To schedule an appointment with one our specialists, contact our scheduling department at 972-250-5700 or request an appointment online.

POSMC is a full-service medical facility specializing in the evaluation and treatment of orthopedic injuries. The practice is led by a group of 12 board-certified and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. Contact us today!