Shoulder instability refers to the symptomatic pathology of abnormal shoulder movement. This may be due to a trauma however atraumatic instability does exist and is multifactorial. Instability will lead to secondary shoulder impingement in which the tendons or other soft tissue structures can be compressed within the bony shoulder structures leading to irritation.
Pain will vary depending on the degree of soft tissue irritability or the activities the individual is performing tasks.
Examination will reveal abnormal shoulder movement with or without underlying shoulder laxity. Positional impingement positions may be painful and soft tissue structures may reveal irritability. Assessment of the whole body will be able to guide the clinician to the most effective treatment.
The management of shoulder instability varies depending on the cause and the frequency of symptoms. A shoulder dislocation due to trauma may be enough to lead to surgery, however this depends on the extent of damage in the underlying soft tissue structures. Atraumatic shoulder dislocation is treated by conservative means focusing on improving shoulder stability using exercises to reduce the symptoms.