Shoulder Instability

A dislocation occurs when the end of the humerus, the ball portion, partially or completely dislocates from the glenoid, the socket portion of the shoulder.A partial dislocation is referred to as a subluxation whereas a complete separation is referred to as a dislocation.

Shoulder instability increases the chance of further dislocation with every occurrence due to damage and stretching of tissues and ligaments.

Patients with shoulder instability often report feeling like their shoulder is going to come out of the socket. Doctors may refer to this feeling as Apprehension. Other common symptoms include:

  • Pain with certain movements of the shoulder
  • Popping or grinding sound may be heard or felt
  • Recurrent Subluxation when the shoulder slips out of place repeatedly
  • Recurrent Dislocation when the shoulder slips all the way out of position repeatedly
  • Severe pain, swelling and bruising of the shoulder immediately following subluxation of dislocation
  • Visible deformity and loos of function of the the shoulder occurs after subluxation
  • Sensation changes such as numbness, or even partial paralysis can occur below the dislocation as a result of pressure on nerves and blood vessel

Risk factors that increase a person’s chance of developing Shoulder Instability include

  • Injury or trauma to the shoulder
  • Falling on an outstretched hand
  • Repetitive overhead sports such as baseball, swimming, volleyball or weightlifting

When conservative treatment options fail to relieve shoulder instability, your Orthopaedic Surgeon may recommend shoulder stabilisation surgery. The goal of shoulder stabilisation surgery is to improve stability and function to the shoulder joint and prevent recurrent dislocations. shoulder stabilisation surgery has traditionally been performed as open surgery, with large incisions and a long recovery process.

Shoulder stabilisation surgery can now be performed arthroscopically, depending on your particular situation with much smaller incisions.

Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small, soft flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into a joint to evaluate and treat a variety of conditions. The benefits of arthroscopy compared to alternative, open shoulder surgery include:

  • Smaller incisions
  • Minimal soft tissue trauma
  • Less Pain
  • Faster healing time
  • Lower infection rate
  • Less scaring
  • Earlier mobilisation
  • Usually performed as outpatient day surgery