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Shoulder Instability Specialist

Maryland Orthopedic Specialists

Orthopedic Surgeons located in Bethesda, MD, Rockville, MD, & Germantown, MD

Shoulder instability can interfere with even the simplest activities like getting dressed, carrying groceries, or even drinking a cup of coffee. This condition is common among athletes and individuals who stress the shoulder with repetitive motions. For an assessment by an orthopedic specialist, visit The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: Maryland Orthopedic Specialists Division. Serving patients in Bethesda, Rockville, and Germantown, Maryland, the practice is led by a skilled team of surgeons who can help heal your shoulder with a wide range of effective therapies. Call today or book an appointment online to get started.

Shoulder Instability Q & A

What is shoulder instability?

Your shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in your body, but it’s also prone to injury. Shoulder instability occurs when the bone of the upper arm slips loose from the shoulder socket or has too much room to move around the socket.

When the bone is completely out of the socket, this is called shoulder dislocation, and it’s a common result of sports injuries, car accidents, and even overuse. If you experience repeated shoulder dislocations, you are considered to have chronic shoulder instability.

What causes shoulder instability?

The three most common causes of shoulder instability include:

Injury or trauma

This is often the cause of an initial dislocation, which may lead to repeated dislocations and worsening pain. When a dislocation occurs, patients often sustain injuries to the ligaments in the front of the shoulder and cartilage in the shoulder joint.


You can have shoulder instability without dislocating your shoulder. Overuse and repetitive motions can strain the shoulder and cause the joint to become loose. This type of instability is often caused by sports like swimming, tennis, and volleyball. People who have jobs that require a lot of lifting or overhead motions might also develop overuse instability.

Multidirectional instability

Some people experience shoulder instability without injury or repetitive stress, as a result of the natural alignment of their bones. With multidirectional instability, the shoulder joint is loose or dislocates in many directions: toward the back, bottom, or front of the shoulder.

What are the symptoms of shoulder instability?

Shoulder instability can trigger different symptoms from one person to the next, depending on the severity of the problem and the reason for the instability. The most common symptoms include chronic pain and a feeling that the shoulder is giving out. The shoulder may also feel like it’s loose or slipping around.

How is shoulder instability treated?

At The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics: Maryland Orthopedic Specialists Division, your physician offers several key methods to treat shoulder instability. Your treatment plan is customized to meet your needs and may include:

  • Surgical interventions: such as labral repair and bankart repair, which heal or reattach torn ligaments
  • Physical therapy: to strengthen the shoulder joint and improve mobility
  • Medication: to reduce inflammation, swelling, and pain

For a personalized consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, call the office or book an appointment online today.