The shoulder joint has the widest range of motion of any joint in the human body, making it also one of the most susceptible to damage. If it is stretched too far in one direction, the ligaments become injured – causing instability in the shoulder.
The shoulder is a ball-and-socket type of joint, located at the junction of the upper arm and the trunk of the body. A shoulder with chronic instability issues (or a feeling of “looseness”) may result in pain, numbness, or tingling down the arm.
Another symptom of chronic instability is the feeling that the shoulder is about to dislocate. It may also feel like it just popped back into place. All of this can cause pain.
Causes of Shoulder Instability
The condition of shoulder instability is the persistent inability of the supportive tissues located around the shoulder to keep the arm centered in the joint, so the resulting feeling is one of looseness in the joint. There are various circumstances that can contribute to the instability of the shoulder joint, such as a dislocation or an overuse injury.
Overuse injury occurs due to repetitive motion. When the connective tissues are injured due to overuse, the shoulder becomes less stable.
Dislocation of the shoulder joint happens in response to trauma. When the ball at the top end of the humerus (the bone in the upper arm) moves out of its socket, it causes injury to the ligaments at the front of the shoulder joint.
Aside from being extremely painful, a dislocated shoulder runs a high likelihood of happening again after the issue is corrected.
Diagnosing and Treating Unstable Shoulder
An orthopedic surgeon will conduct a physical exam to check for looseness in the ligaments of the shoulder joint. The doctor may also order diagnostic imaging scans like X-rays or an MRI to see the structures inside the joint to confirm or dispel initial considerations.
Simple activity modification may be enough to improve the shoulder. Over-the-counter medicines such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), like aspirin or ibuprofen, may help reduce pain and swelling.
Physical therapy may also be prescribed. Physical therapy can strengthen the surrounding muscles, making it easier for them to hold the shoulder stable. But once the stretched tissues begin to fray or tear, surgery is probably the best way to repair it and go back to your current lifestyle.
Surgical Intervention for Shoulder Pain
If none of the above nonsurgical treatments bring relief, your orthopedic physician may recommend surgery to repair the connective tissue damage.
This surgery is now often performed using minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery: The surgeon will use an arthroscope to identify and repair areas of torn tissue.
Orthopedic Surgeon in Cleveland
If your shoulder is in constant pain, contact us at Orthopaedic Associates. We will evaluate your shoulder pain or other musculoskeletal issues, and we will diagnose and treat your condition to get you back to the life you love.
Call us today to schedule a consultation at (440) 892-1440, or request an appointment by filling out our online form. We’re conveniently located in Westlake and Avon. Let us help you put an end to that shoulder pain.