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Tanner Clinic,

Robert S. Rice, MD.

Sports Surgeon Utah

Shoulder Instability

Injuries that affect shoulder stability are fairly common. Dislocation or subluxation (partial dislocation) events to the shoulder result in damage to the labrum and capsular ligaments, important stabilizing structures of the shoulder joint. When the shoulder stability is compromised the result is pain, weakness, instability and motion loss of the shoulder. This abnormal function in the shoulder can cause difficulty sleeping and an inability to use the shoulder for normal activities. In order to restore the normal function of the shoulder and to reduce pain, reparative surgery can be performed. The goal of shoulder stabilization repair is to reattach the torn labrum and capsule back to the shoulder socket and restore the function of these important stabilizing structures.

There are various techniques currently utilized to surgically repair the unstable shoulder. In all techniques, the goal is to provide soft tissue to bone healing in the shoulder allowing return to normal activity. The technique I use most regularly is arthroscopic stabilization. This allows for smaller incisions in the skin and typically less pain. With the reduction in immediate post-procedure pain, patients are more likely to achieve normal motion earlier in their recovery.

Equally as important as the surgical repair is the post-surgical rehabilitation in achieving full shoulder recovery and function. Patients are allowed to begin gentle motion exercises shortly after surgery. A shoulder brace is worn for six weeks following surgery to protect the repair and promote a healthy healing environment in the shoulder. Physical therapy is an integral piece in the recovery process. Most patients will work with their therapist for approximately three months following the operation. Physical therapy assists with swelling reduction, range of motion and strength return. When full recovery from shoulder surgery is achieved, it is anticipated that patients will be able to return to all of their normal activities.