Shoulder instability

Girl training in a gym with shoulder pain
Getty Images under licence to PhysioQinetics Ltd.


What is shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability is when the capsule and ligaments supporting the shoulder joint can no longer provide the necessary control of the "ball" in the "socket" of the shoulder joint. The shoulder is effectively "loose" and this allows excessive movement of the joint.

Shoulder instability is most common following a shoulder dislocation (where the top of the arm bone "popped" out of its shallow socket). Dislocating the shoulder overstretches and injures the capsule and ligaments surrounding the shoulder joint. This reduces the ability of the capsule and ligaments to support the joint and makes the joint "unstable".

The capsule and ligaments supporting the shoulder joint may also be overstretched and damaged if they are repetitively stressed. This can occur during repeated throwing as the capsule and ligaments become loose and the shoulder joint becomes unstable. You can also have shoulder instability if you have naturally lax ligaments. People with this type of laxity are often referred to as "double jointed" and have loose ligaments and instabilities in most joints in their bodies.


Male patient having scapular trigger point release therapy
Getty Images under licence to PhysioQinetics Ltd.


Treatment for shoulder instability

Physiotherapy rehabilitation is important and will take the form of strengthening for the rotator cuff and scapular muscles and correction of any altered movement patterns. This can facilitate return to higher level sport post full, or near dislocations. In severe cases, surgery may be required if there is significant joint damage, or if a person is at risk of recurrent dislocation.

Our Physiotherapy treatment for shoulder instability may include:-



Company No. 8195074 Indigo House, Mulberry Business Park, Fishpond Road, Wokingham, RG41 2GY | 01895 255139

Privacy Policy