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Shoulder Instability


Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability can arise from a dislocation, subluxation, or even separation. Sometimes unstable shoulders need surgery. Many cases of shoulder instability are effectively treated without surgery. If you suspect you have shoulder instability, we want to work with you to help guide you and provide treatment options for your shoulder.

Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability is a complex topic and refers to a variety of shoulder conditions including traumatic dislocations and joint laxity. While up to 25% of individuals may have laxity of their joints, a much smaller number have instability. 

The shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint usually resulting from traumatic falls or other contact sports injuries. Traumatic shoulder dislocations have a high likelihood of recurrence especially in young individuals. 

Multidirectional instability (MDI) of the shoulder is different from traumatic instability and usually refers to shoulder pain due to excess laxity or “looseness” in the shoulder. 

In the past it was thought that some sports like elite gymnastics and swimming, athletes with joint laxity might have an advantage, but current studies are inconclusive.

Unlike individuals who have experienced a traumatic shoulder dislocation and have instability in the affected shoulder, MDI individuals typically have laxity in both shoulders. The symptomatic shoulder is considered the one with MDI.

At Sports Health Northwest, our sports injury specialist is happy to discuss shoulder injuries, shoulder instability, and the available treatment options


Sports Health Northwest, Inc
12672 NW Barnes RD, STE 100
Portland, OR 97229
Phone: 503-747-6376
Fax: 503-530-8406

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