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Shoulder Instability Specialist

Sports Medicine Center

Sports Medicine & Orthopedics located in Appleton, WI

Shoulder instability is particularly common in athletes, often affecting those who play throwing and collision sports. At Sports Medicine Center, board-certified sports medicine specialist Etienne Mejia, MD, provides the highest standard of shoulder instability care in the practice’s Appleton, Wisconsin, office. Click on the online appointment scheduler or call the office for shoulder instability help now.

Shoulder Instability Q&A

What is shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability is a condition that happens when the head of the humerus (your upper arm bone) moves out of its normal position. This involves either subluxation — when the humerus partially moves out of place — or dislocation, in which the ball part of the humerus completely leaves the socket. 

Shoulder instability can be a frustrating condition because the shoulder may slide or pop in and out of position frequently, which means you can't rely on it for normal movement. 

What causes shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability can happen for several reasons, including wear and tear over the years, trauma, and long-term repetitive overuse of the shoulder. For example, rotator cuff and labrum injuries can both lead to shoulder instability if untreated. Both conditions can occur with either wear-and-tear as you age or with trauma to the shoulder. 

Many athletes in throwing and collision sports experience shoulder instability. For example, pitchers may develop shoulder instability over time because they frequently stretch their shoulder’s soft tissues extensively. 

Athletes who play football or other collision sports have a higher risk of shoulder instability due to injuries from sudden shoulder impact. 

What symptoms does shoulder instability cause?

Shoulder instability can be a bit different for each person, but some common issues are:

  • Shoulder weakness
  • Feeling of your shoulder giving out
  • Loose-feeling shoulder
  • Shoulder pain

In some cases, you may not experience serious discomfort or function loss, but your shoulder may still feel as if it's not moving like it normally does. 

What is the treatment for shoulder instability?

At Sports Medicine Center, Dr. Mejia and the team take the time to discuss all of your treatment options with you. They personalize your treatment plan to restore your function, whether you're a high-level professional athlete or someone who's virtually inactive. 

The exact treatment course can vary considerably with the underlying injury and whether you're able to make lifestyle changes. Some cases may respond to nonsurgical treatments like physical therapy, medication, and injections. 

Many cases of shoulder instability are directly related to soft tissue tears or other damage to your shoulder tissues. For example, for a rotator cuff tear, minimally invasive rotator cuff surgery can restore your function and stop your shoulder pain. After you complete physical therapy post-surgery, you can have a stable shoulder once again. 

Some cases of shoulder damage may be more extensive, in which case you may need open shoulder surgery for a more complex repair. 

To learn more about the treatments for shoulder instability, call Sports Medicine Center or book a consultation online now.