Shoulder instability occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder
joint loosen and cannot maintain the ball within its shallow socket. If the
joint is too loose, it may slide partially out of place, a condition known as
When the joint comes completely out of place, also called "shoulder
dislocation", the ligaments that support the shoulder are torn. Normally,
this injury does not heal tightly, making the shoulder prone to repeat
dislocation and additional episodes of instability.
With shoulder instability, some activities can create sudden pain, a sense
of arm deadness, or the feeling of your shoulder slipping out and back into
the joint. If you experience complete dislocation, you may have severe pain
along with the inability to "reset" the joint.
Some shoulder instability can be treated with rest followed by
rehabilitation. However, in certain instances, the physician may recommend
surgery - these include more complicated injuries, cases of recurrent
instability, and first-time dislocations in younger patients who have a high
risk of recurrence, further damage, or limited activity.