Chronic Shoulder Instability: Symptoms, Treatment, & Recovery

Our shoulders are a necessary part of living, so when we get a severe injury, it can significantly impact our lives. A shoulder dislocation needs to be treated quickly. After the initial injury, there is a greater chance your shoulder may slip out of place again, leading to discomfort. This condition is called chronic shoulder instability and treatment can vary from physical therapy to shoulder replacement surgery.
What is Shoulder Instability?
Shoulder instability doesn’t occur over time like other joint conditions. Instead, it happens after an accident or injury. For example, you may have fallen, been struck by a heavy object, or lifted and carried heavy objects. A shoulder dislocation can be extremely painful and uncomfortable because it affects your ligaments, muscles, and tendons. It’s usually on one side. While it can heal over time, you could dislocate your shoulder repeatedly.
What are the Symptoms of Shoulder Instability?
If your shoulder pulls out of position while performing normal daily activities, this could indicate shoulder instability. However, if your shoulder constantly feels out of place and never feels normal, or you’re experiencing pain or stiffness, it’s time to book an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. Diagnosis may involve a medical exam with mobility tests, X-rays, MRIs, or other medical imaging.
What Treatment is Available?
Physical therapy can be an effective treatment to regain full mobility in your shoulder. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling in the joint. If these methods are ineffective, surgery can be performed to tighten and repair torn or damaged ligaments. If the damage is severe, shoulder replacement may be recommended. There will be a recommended recovery time where you’ll need to reduce your physical activities to give your shoulder a chance to heal.
How Long is the Recovery Time?
It can take some time, but physical therapy, rest, medication, and heat/ice packs can heal your shoulder. This process can take several months. If surgery is required, the recovery time is shorter, about a few months. Discuss with your doctor what to expect during your treatment plan.
Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A.
If you’ve been experiencing shoulder pain and stiffness longer than expected, please book an appointment at Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, P.A. Our orthopedic doctors can diagnose your condition and provide a treatment plan or recommend shoulder replacement surgery, depending on the circumstances. It’ll take time, but soon your injured shoulder will heal, and you can resume your normal daily activities. Contact us today at 252-443-0400 and schedule an appointment.