What Could Be Causing Instability In Your Shoulders?

Think about how often you move your shoulder. Your shoulder lets you move your arm up to reach for something, or it can outstretch your arm to your side. Your shoulder also rotates when you do activities such as swimming or playing tennis. The shoulder allows the most movement in your body, but it comes with significant instability, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

The ball-and-socket joint of the shoulder consists of the upper part of your arm bone (the ball) and the glenoid (the socket), according to Mayo Clinic. Shoulder instability occurs when the ball separates from the socket. You could have a subluxation, which is a quick and partial separation of the shoulder joint, or a dislocation, which is when the shoulder gets stuck out of place. Ouch. When the arm bone slips out of the glenoid, you could possibly tear some of the cartilage or muscles of the rotator cuff. Ouch again.

You might have shoulder instability if you feel pain in your shoulder or if you feel it's slipping out of place, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. You might also have a limited range of motion or swelling in that area.

Some causes of shoulder instability

According to WebMD, the most common cause of shoulder instability is a specific trauma such as a collision or sports injury. Age and having a job that requires manual labor can stress the shoulder and cause instability. The shoulder can also become unstable if you have loose ligaments, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. This could occur naturally or if you play a sport that has repetitive movements such as swimming, tennis, or volleyball. Some double-jointed people might have shoulder instability because the loose ligaments throughout their body can cause multidirectional instability in the shoulder.

If you believe you have shoulder instability, a doctor might prescribe physical therapy and suggest limiting or adjusting your current activities (via Mayo Clinic). Surgery might be necessary if you have significant tears or fractures in your shoulder. If you don't treat shoulder instability early, other parts of your shoulder could get damaged. You could also develop arthritis later.