Shoulder Instability After Shoulder Dislocation

Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCSC, Sport Med Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses shoulder instability after shoulder dislocation.

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Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCSC, Sport Med Orthopedic Surgeon, discusses shoulder instability after shoulder dislocation.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Jordan Leith, MD, MHSc, FRCSC, Sport Med Orthopedic Surgeon

Duration: 2 minutes, 42 seconds

Patients who present with recurrent dislocations of their shoulder joint usually don’t have much in the way of pain as their primary complaint. Their main complaint is that of a feeling of instability in the shoulder or “My shoulder feels like it’s partially coming out of joint.”

Or, it’s actually dislocating with sometimes simple activities: rolling over in bed, sneezing, or when they’re playing their sporting activities. Those patients need to see a medical professional or an orthopedic surgeon to discuss surgical treatment when they are having these recurrent episodes of dislocations and the sense that their shoulder is just too loose to function properly.

With patients who’ve had recurrent dislocations, you don’t require any other imaging besides recent or updated X-rays to make sure there’s no injuries or large injuries to the bony anatomy of the shoulder joint. You don’t need an ultrasound, an MRI or a CT scan, or any fancy imaging studies. You just need to get X-rays and see an orthopedic surgeon.

Following a first-time dislocation or any subsequent dislocation, you should seek professional therapy from a physiotherapist to get your range of motion back, decrease your pain, and get your strength so that you can get back to normal day-to- day functioning.

In the situation where you’ve had recurrent dislocations where you need surgery, then you need to see an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the surgical treatment and management of your recurrent instability or recurrent dislocations.

It usually involves an arthroscopic day-care procedure, where the surgeon looks in your shoulder, identifies where the torn labrum or the torn ligaments are that have occurred with each dislocation.

What they do is they pass sutures through those ligaments, reattach them back onto the edge of the glenoid or the socket of your shoulder to keep the ball in the socket. That’s essentially what the surgery does; it is tightens the shoulder and reattaches the torn ligaments that have been pulled off the socket.

Following surgery for recurrent dislocations of the shoulder, you’re normally placed in a sling for protection. You’re generally allowed to move through a limited range of motion. You’ll begin physiotherapy after your wounds have healed, which usually occurs after the first to second week. You should regain your range of motion within the first two to three months and return to your sport after about six months.

If you’ve suffered a first time shoulder dislocation or have recurrent dislocations of your shoulder, you should rehabilitate with a physiotherapist, seek the advice of your family physician, and get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon so you can discuss the surgical management of this problem.

Presenter: Dr. Jordan Leith, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Orthopaedic Surgeon

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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