Dee Why Chiropractor Treatments

The unstable painful shoulder (UPS)

The unstable painful shoulder is described as a shoulder that persists to be painful during shoulder activities such as sports participation or functional tasks such as getting things out of the top cupboard. There does not need to be a history of gross dislocation or repeated subluxation (partial dislocation). Microtrauma through repetitive stress (doing things too much, without optimal movement) is believed to be the cause of pain.


The primary cause of the unstable painful shoulder is a hyperlax shoulder joint. The shoulder is too loose and moves around too much bumping into other joint structures and rubbing, compressing and irritating other shoulder joint structures. This could be due to either:

  • 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)


The main symptoms of an unstable painful shoulder are anterior shoulder pain that is deep and persistent, especially after voluminous overhead activities. This condition can present with just shoulder pain. In many cases, the shoulder has no history of gross dislocation or subluxation.


Chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments are valuable in the treatment of painful and unstable shoulder. Rehabilitation exercises predominate the treatment plan. For more information ask your chiropractor, physiotherapist or doctor.