Treatment for Shoulder Instability & Dislocations in Lafayette, LA
Shoulder instability occurs when the end of the upper arm bone (humeral head) does not rotate properly in the center of the shoulder socket (glenoid). As one of the most mobile joints in the body, the shoulder is highly complex and susceptible to injuries such as joint dislocation, which occurs when the humeral head pops out of the glenoid. Chronic shoulder instability can result from multiple dislocations.
What Causes the Shoulder to Dislocate?
Direct trauma from a fall, vehicle collision, or sporting accident can forcefully dislocate the shoulder joint. Additionally, a dislocation can occur during regular activities if the muscles and ligaments that support the shoulder joint are weak. Repetitive overhead movements such as those involved in tennis, volleyball, and swimming can strain and gradually weaken the shoulder ligaments, increasing the likelihood of dislocation. Once a shoulder has dislocated, it will be prone to repeat episodes, each of which will further loosen the joint and make it easier for the humerus to slip out of place.
What Are the Symptoms of Shoulder Instability?
The most common symptoms of chronic shoulder instability are:
- Recurrent dislocations
- Joint hypermobility (looseness)
- A sensation that the upper arm bone is slipping in and out of its socket
- A feeling that the arm is “simply hanging there”
To diagnose shoulder instability, a physician may order an X-ray to evaluate the positioning of the shoulder bones, or an MRI to identify any injuries to the tendons and ligaments in and around the joint.
How Is Chronic Shoulder Instability Treated?
In most cases, treatment for chronic shoulder instability begins with nonsurgical approaches, such as:
- Lifestyle changes – Activities that involve reaching overhead and movements that aggravate the pain and other symptoms should be avoided.
- Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce painful swelling.
- Physical therapy – A physician or physical therapist can recommend appropriate exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles that support the shoulder.
In severe cases, surgery may be considered to address torn or stretched ligaments and improve their ability to hold the shoulder bones in place.
Consult With a Shoulder Specialist
If you’re experiencing shoulder instability symptoms, you can feel confident entrusting your care to Peter D. Vizzi, M.D., a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who practices in Lafayette, Louisiana. Dr. Vizzi can promptly evaluate your shoulder pain and help you determine if conservative or surgical treatment is appropriate. Contact us today.