Shoulder instability is an inclusive term for a variety of conditions, including dislocation, when the shoulder partially slips out of joint, and laxity. These injuries occur with great force to the shoulder or arm, such as in intense sports like football. After the shoulder slips out of the joint, especially more than once, it can become unstable.
This condition creates problems because it is very limiting for patients, especially for those who work with their hands or participate in sports that require shoulder movement, and because it often becomes a chronic condition. There is also potential damage to the surface of the cartilage of the shoulder when it frequently slips in and out of joint.
In addition to athletes, those who generally have loose joints are prone to shoulder instability. They are referred to as being double-jointed, and may also suffer from loose joints in other parts of their body, such as the knees.
Physical Therapy for Shoulder Instability
At Arrow Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation, we work with specific muscle strengthening to help put the dislocated shoulder back in place and keep it there. This entails an understanding of avoiding movements that could pull the shoulder back out. Treatment includes behavior modification, which is very important for this condition. We help the patient learn certain aggravating activities or exercises (e.g. should not do dips or bench press below certain angle) that further shoulder instability in order to avoid future injury. Resistance exercises as well as weights are employed, performing concentric and eccentric strengthening in a very specific pattern.
Modalities: Cold laser and/or infrared light therapy, ultrasound, electric stimulation, icing, possibly heat.