Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
When Your Shoulder
What is shoulder
"Shoulder instability" is what doctors say you
have when your shoulder goes a little out of place or feels like it might.
"Instability" means that the shoulder bones aren't stable--they aren't held
together as tight as they should be.
instability the same as shoulder dislocation?
No. When your shoulder goes completely out of
place, it's called "dislocation." The shoulder ligaments are torn and can't keep
the joint in place. The signs of dislocation and instability might seem the same
to you--weakness and pain.
The shoulder becomes unstable if the ligaments
and muscles around it become weak. When ligaments and muscles get stretched too
much, they get weak. Your shoulder muscles and ligaments might get stretched too
much if you often throw a ball, hit hard with your shoulder in a football game
or serve a volleyball really hard.
What are the signs
of shoulder instability?
The main sign is pain in your shoulder. The pain
can start suddenly or slowly. It may hit you just as you throw a ball, for
example. If the injury happens suddenly, you may also feel numb all the way down
If shoulder instability comes on slowly over
time, you may only notice pain at certain times. Shoulder motions like throwing
may hurt, but the pain isn't as bad as the pain of a sudden injury. Your
shoulder might be sore when you move it. It might feel loose in its joint. Your
arm might feel weak.
How does my
doctor find out I have shoulder instability?
Your doctor looks at your shoulder, moving your
arm around to find signs of instability. Your doctor may also take x-rays. The
x-rays will show if your shoulder bones are in the right place. You might get a
special "picture" called a magnetic resonance image (or MRI, for short). An MRI
lets your doctor see the bones and other parts of your
How is shoulder
Some people have surgery. Some people have
physical therapy. It depends on how bad your shoulder is and how important it is
for you to have a strong shoulder.
What else can I
Some people stop playing sports and avoid things
that might hurt their shoulder again. If you don't want to give up sports or
other activities, you can try weight-lifting exercises to make your shoulder