Shoulder instability is a problem of loose shoulder joint that occurs when the structures that surround the shoulder joint such as the ligaments, capsule and cartilage become overstretched or injured. When this occurs you may have shoulder joint dislocation. A dislocation occurs when the head of the upper arm bone (humerus) is forced out of the shoulder socket (glenoid). Shoulder dislocation can be partial or complete. A partial dislocation occurs when the ball of the upper arm comes partially out of the socket. It is referred to as a subluxation. A complete dislocation occurs when the ball comes all the way out of the socket.
Shoulder instability most commonly occurs as a result of a Bankart injury or tear. Bankart tear is a specific injury to a part of the shoulder joint called the labrum. Labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage that surrounds the glenoid and stabilises the shoulder joint. Bankart tear leads to recurrent dislocations, feeling of looseness, lack of strength, pain or clicking and arthritis of the shoulder. Shoulder instability may be caused by injury, falling on outstretched hand, repetitive overhead sports such as basket ball, volley ball or weight lifting. Patients with shoulder instability may have severe pain, swelling, popping or grinding sound, partial or complete dislocation, loss of sensation or partial paralysis and loss of function.
If conservative treatment such as immobilisation, prescription medicines, physical therapy, closed reduction or manipulation and occupational therapy fails to relieve the shoulder instability, your surgeon may recommend reconstruction surgery.
Shoulder reconstruction surgery involves repair of the torn or stretched ligaments so that they are better able to hold the shoulder joint in place. During the surgery the torn labrum is reattached back to the shoulder socket with the help of special anchors and the overstretched capsules and ligaments are tightened.