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About Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of a sudden injury or from overuse. Once the ligaments, tendons and muscles around the shoulder become loose or torn dislocations can occur. When the shoulder is loose and slips out of place repeatedly, it is called chronic shoulder instability. Depending on the severity of your injury and your activity level, nonsurgical treatment may be the best option to relieve pain and improve function, however, if improvement does not occur surgical treatment may be required. Our orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine providers work with you on developing a specialized treatment plan with your goals in mind with a team dedicated to helping you every step of the way.

Common symptoms of chronic shoulder instability include:

  • Pain caused by shoulder injury
  • Repeated shoulder dislocations
  • Repeated instances of the shoulder giving out
  • A persistent sensation of the shoulder feeling loose, slipping in and out of the joint, or just “hanging there”

Shoulder Instability Treatment at UT Health Austin

Upon evaluation of your shoulder, your medical provider will discuss nonsurgical treatment option as an initial approach to healing the joint and improving function. These options often include activity modifications and rest, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen, physical therapy and strengthening exercises. In rare cases, arthroscopic surgery may be suggested as a treatment option if the pain does not improve. Your care team will walk you through the risks and benefits as well as what to expect throughout your recovery process.

Care Team Approach

We have assembled a team of experts that includes hip and knee orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, and social workers. This team enables us to provide the right care for the right patient at the right time. For some patients, nonsurgical interventions such as lifestyle modifications, physical therapy, medication and injections can help improve pain and function, while surgery may be the best course of action for others. Whatever your needs, our team is here to listen and work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you.