Shoulder instability is a condition that affects the effective function of the shoulder joint, leading to discomfort and reduced mobility. Seeking expert care is crucial for shoulder instability recovery. Dr. Michael Bercik, an esteemed orthopedic surgeon at Lancaster Orthopedic Group, is known for his exceptional expertise in shoulder and elbow conditions.

Shoulder InstabilityHis academic journey, marked by a Magna Cum Laude graduation from Georgetown University and medical training at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, is complemented by advanced fellowships in France and Australia. Dr. Bercik’s comprehensive approach, combining innovative techniques and personalized patient care, establishes him as a leader in orthopedic surgery.

Understanding Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when the shoulder joint is too loose and can move or slide around too much in the socket. In some cases, the shoulder may completely dislocate out of its socket. This instability often results from an injury or overuse of the shoulder ligaments that hold the joint in place.

The primary causes of shoulder instability include:

  • Traumatic injury, such as a dislocated shoulder
  • Repetitive strain leads to the stretching of the shoulder ligaments
  • Congenital factors, where individuals are born with looser ligaments

Symptoms of shoulder instability can vary but typically include:

  • Frequent dislocation or slipping of the shoulder joint
  • Persistent pain and tenderness
  • A sense of the shoulder feeling loose, weak, or unstable
  • Decreased range of motion and difficulty with certain movements

Treating Shoulder Instability

Diagnosis involves a physical examination and medical history review. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, or CT scans may be conducted to assess the extent of instability and any associated injuries to the ligaments or labrum.

Initial treatment often starts conservatively and may include the following:

  • Rest and activity modification to reduce strain on the shoulder
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder and improve stability
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief

Surgery may be recommended in cases where non-surgical treatments fail to improve joint stability or in the case of recurrent shoulder dislocations. The goal of surgery is to repair the torn or stretched ligaments and reattach them to the bone to restore stability. Common surgical procedures include:

  • Arthroscopy: A minimally invasive surgery involving inserting a small camera (arthroscope) into the shoulder joint to guide the procedure. Instruments are used to repair the damaged ligaments and labrum. Arthroscopy often results in less pain and quicker recovery times compared to open surgery.
  • Open Surgery: In more severe cases or when arthroscopy is not suitable, open surgery may be required to repair or reconstruct the ligaments.
  • Capsular Shift: A capsular shift procedure can be performed to tighten the shoulder capsule for patients with generalized ligamentous laxity.
  • Latarjet Procedure: In cases of severe instability or bone loss, a Latarjet procedure may be performed. This involves transferring a small piece of bone with an attached tendon to the shoulder area to improve stability and prevent dislocation.

Post-surgery, patients typically undergo a period of immobilization followed by rehabilitation. Physical therapy is crucial in restoring strength and range of motion. Recovery time can vary, but patients usually return to regular activity within a few months.

Schedule a Consultation Today!

Shoulder instability can be debilitating, but with proper diagnosis, treatment, and expert surgical intervention when necessary, patients can regain stability and functionality in their shoulders.

If you are dealing with shoulder instability, don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bercik by completing an appointment request form or calling us at 717.560.4200.