The shoulder joint has great mobility; however, patients sometimes develop instability with recurrent episodes of subluxation or dislocation. This is often described as feeling the shoulder slipping or popping in and out of the socket.
Patients with anterior instability commonly have a history of prior dislocation. In order to diagnose shoulder instability, an X-ray is taken to rule out any bony defect, as well as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to evaluate the shoulder cartilage for injury.
Treatment for shoulder instability is heavily dependent on the age of the patient and the type of activity they participate in. Treatment can begin with three to six months of extensive physical therapy that focuses on the strengthening of the rotator cuff muscles. If the shoulder has continued instability, surgical intervention may be necessary to stabilize the shoulder.