Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can be classified into two different types, dislocations and subluxations.

Dislocations
This happens when the head of the humerus completely pops out of the socket. The first few times this happens, it is usually with significant trauma (although some people can have these without any injury at all). After that, it can get easier and easier for the joint to dislocate. Most shoulder dislocations are anterior. This means that the ball pops out the front of the socket.

Subluxations
This is the feeling that the shoulder slips slightly out of socket, then immediately comes back in place. This often happens without any major trauma. Sometimes it happens in people who are very “loose-jointed”. Sometimes these happen in just one direction (like out the front, or anterior), and other times they happen out multiple directions (e.g., front, anterior and back, posterior). This is called “multidirectional instability”.

Symptoms to look for include:

    • Swelling

 

    • Numbness

 

    • Weakness

 

    • Bruising

 

  • Sometimes dislocation may tear ligaments or tendons in the shoulder or damage nerves.

The shoulder joint can dislocate forward, backward, or downward. A common type of shoulder dislocation is when the shoulder slips forward (anterior instability). This means the upper arm bone moved forward and down out of its joint. It may happen when the arm is put in a throwing position.

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