Instability/Dislocation

Traumatic Shoulder Instability

Traumatic shoulder instability is the term used to describe an unstable or lax shoulder joint due to a previous injury. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, with a shallow socket to allow for maximal range of motion. However this shallow socket makes the shoulder prone to dislocation injuries either from direct trauma or from repetitive overuse.

Shoulder dislocations can be partial, only coming part way out of the joint, or complete, coming entirely out of the joint and thus requiring relocation. Dislocation injuries cause stretching and weakening of the ligaments, tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder making the joint unstable and prone to repeated dislocation injuries.

Traumatic shoulder instability typically presents as pain and a feeling of laxity or looseness.

 

Non-traumatic Shoulder Instability

Non-traumatic shoulder instability is the term used to describe an unstable or lax shoulder joint with no history of trauma, which may have structural abnormalities that predispose it to instability. The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, with a shallow socket to allow for maximal range of motion. However this shallow socket makes the shoulder prone to dislocations.

People with congenital abnormalities or ligament laxity may experience dislocations, either partial or complete, during normal day to day activities. Dislocation injuries cause further stretching and weakening of the ligaments, tendons and muscles surrounding the joint emphasising the joint’s instability making it even more prone to repeated dislocation injuries.

Non-traumatic shoulder instability presents as a feeling of looseness within the shoulder and may feel as if it is about to give way during normal day to day tasks.

 

Posterior Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, with a shallow socket to allow for maximal range of motion. However this shallow socket makes the shoulder prone to dislocation injuries. Shoulder dislocations can be partial, only coming part way out of the joint, or complete, coming entirely out of the joint and requiring relocation. Dislocation injuries cause stretching and weakening of the ligaments, tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder making the joint unstable and prone to repeated dislocation injuries.

Posterior shoulder dislocation injuries occur when the head of the humerus, the “ball”, moves backwards out of the socket. It is a rare type of dislocation injury as most dislocations occur are anterior (forward). Posterior dislocation typically follows a fall onto an outstretched hand or following seizure activity and is associated with shoulder deformation, severe pain, rapid swelling and a complete loss of shoulder function.

Due to the posterior movement of the head of the humerus, there may be a palpable lump at the back of the shoulder, and the patient will likely hold the arm out to the side and inwards rotation.

 

Anterior Shoulder Dislocation

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint, with a shallow socket to allow for maximal range of motion. However this shallow socket makes the shoulder prone to dislocation injuries. Shoulder dislocations can be partial, only coming part way out of the joint, or complete, coming entirely out of the joint and requiring relocation. Dislocation injuries cause stretching and weakening of the ligaments, tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder making the joint unstable and prone to repeated dislocation injuries.

Anterior (forward) shoulder dislocation injuries occur when the head of the humerus, the “ball”, moves forwards, inwards and downwards out of the socket. Is the most common type of dislocation injury and typically occurs following a traumatic sports injury where the shoulder is placed in a position of forced abduction, external rotation and extension. It may be the result of a direct trauma to the humeral head, an indirect trauma to the arm or following a sudden wrenching movement such as over throwing a ball or missing a target during a boxing punch.

Anterior dislocation injuries present as shoulder deformation, severe pain, rapid swelling and a complete loss of shoulder function.

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