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What Causes Shoulder Instability, and How Do I Treat It?

March 27, 2022

A dislocated joint is an extremely painful and dangerous injury that requires immediate medical attention. At Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin, we can help you properly restore your joints so that you can continue to live your life without pain or limitations.

Our Austin, TX, surgeons are highly skilled in treating dislocations and subluxations. We take the time to fully assess your situation, and we will always choose minimally-invasive treatments first. But, even with effective and conservative treatment, joint instability, like shoulder instability, can make dislocation and subluxation more likely to occur again.

Here, our team will discuss common causes of shoulder instability and how to prevent dislocations in the future. Knowing which behaviors to avoid and how to strengthen your muscles will keep your shoulder joints healthy and comfortable.

Common Causes of Shoulder Instability

Shoulder dislocations account for nearly half of all joint dislocations, making them the most frequently displaced joints in the body. Dislocation can occur for several reasons, including:

  • Trauma from a fall or accident
  • Repetitive motions
  • Sports injuries
  • Genetic predisposition

Once dislocated, the shoulder joint sustains damage to the capsule, ligaments, and tendons. Even after the joint is restored, the tears, stretching, and looseness in surrounding tissue causes significant instability. This instability leads to frequent injuries, more dislocations, and additional damage.

What Do I Do If I Have a Dislocated Shoulder?

If you currently have a dislocated shoulder, then contact our Austin experts immediately. Never try to replace the joint yourself, as doing so could cause even more damage.

After we replace the joint, it's crucial to let your shoulder rest and recover. Our team facilitates proper healing by immobilizing the arm and joint with the help of a soft sling. We may suggest icing the joint for 20 minutes at a time and using over-the-counter medications to reduce swelling and pain.

Once the pain and swelling have subsided, you can carefully begin using your arm for daily activities again. After you feel more comfortable, you can then begin strengthening and range of motion exercises to improve shoulder stability.

How Do I Prevent More Dislocations?

The key to preventing more shoulder dislocations is to improve the strength of surrounding muscles and to encourage a healthy range of motion. Our team will happily teach you effective exercises to enhance your shoulder's strength and mobility, such as:

  • Rotator cuff exercises
  • Scapula control and endurance training
  • Mobility and confidence drills

These exercises and techniques are specifically designed to combat shoulder instability and dislocations. With consistent effort, these exercises may eliminate or postpone the need for surgical intervention.

What If I Need Surgery?

Our Austin orthopaedic specialists will always exhaust all other options before suggesting shoulder surgery. Nonetheless, some patients will not be able to stabilize their shoulder without surgical remediation.

Ultimately, our team will help you decide when or if shoulder surgery is necessary. If it is, then we will guide you through the entire process, including rehabilitation.

Schedule a Consultation Today

Living with shoulder pain and frequent dislocations can negatively impact your daily life. If you're ready to address shoulder instability, then contact Orthopaedic Specialists of Austin today.

Patients can request an appointment online, or they may call us directly at (512) 476-2830.