Shoulder instability

Dr Amir Rezaee and A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Shoulder instability is tendency of the glenohumeral joint to sublax or dislocate due to loss of it's normal functional or anatomical stabilizers:

  • static or anatomical:
    • articular surface 
    • labrum
    • glenohumeral ligaments
    • glenohumeral joint capsule
    • coroacoacromial arch
    • negative adhesive forces 
  • dynamic or functional:
    • rotator cuff
    • long head of biceps tendon

Shoulder instability can further be divided into:

As a result of this greater mobility, a number of seconday changes may become evident, including:

These changes in turn may lead to shoulder impingement.

Risk factors

Treatment and prognosis

In general both anterior and posterior instability requires surgical repair and strengthening of the capsule.

Multi-directional instability is usually treated conservatively with rotator cuff strengthening exercises 2.

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Article information

rID: 2043
Section: Gamuts
Tags: shoulder, refs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Instability of the shoulder

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Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Case 1 : anterior shoulder dislocation
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    Reverse Hill-Sach...
    Case 2 : reverse Hill-Sachs and reverse Bankart
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  • Drag
    Case 3 : bilateral shoulder instability
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  • Drag
    Case 4: ALPSA, SLAP 2 tear, and GAGL lesions
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