Chronic shoulder instability
Chronic shoulder instability describes the condition where there is repeated dislocation of the shoulder. After every dislocation, another dislocation is more likely. Over time, the shoulder becomes looser. This places extra tension and stress on the shoulder joint structures such as rotator cuff tendons, bursae and accessory joint structures.
Complete shoulder dislocation is very obvious, in that the shoulder is ‘popped’ out and needs to be put back in. Partial dislocations in chronic shoulder instability may not be so obvious. A partial dislocation is called a subluxation. The most common symptoms associated with this condition are:
- Multiple shoulder dislocations (full or partial)
- Persistent shoulder pain
- Associated shoulder injury such as tendons, ligaments and muscles
- Constant feeling of a loose joint, or the shoulder not sitting well
The causes of chronic shoulder instability are summarised here:
- Injury: A large injury causing full dislocation and instability
- Repetitive stress: Smaller injuries that are frequent and loosen tissues (overhead sports)
- Multidirectional instability: Genetic looseness (laxity) in joints (double jointed)
Chronic shoulder instability will produce a shoulder that is painful and unstable.
The treatment of chronic shoulder instability relates to the cause, severity and complications. Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments are valuable. Please speak to your sports chiro, sports physio or medical doctor for more information.