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How To Treat Shoulder Instability Injuries

Summer sports and pre-season training are in full swing and with this we see injuries andaccidents occurring. One of the more commonly seen injuries is shoulder joint dislocation. Most incidences of dislocated shoulder are a result of traumatic injuries brought on by events such as falls, landings and tackles. A direct blow to the area, forceful throwing, lifting and contact with other players might be enough to dislocate the joint. As we see a lot of injuries  in our clinics of shoulder joint instability and dislocated shoulders we thought this post might be of some interest to those who may have incurred a shoulder injury. 

Recent Study of Shoulder Joint Instability in Young Athletes 


A recent study documented in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, looked at the injuries occurrence, particularly in younger athletes. The study outlined the following:

  • Young male athletes are at the highest risk off shoulder joint instability and recurrences.

  • The rate of athletes reinjuring a shoulder was higher in patients under 23 years old (72%) than those who were older than 30 years old (27%)

  • Athletes between 15-20 years of age who were treat through nonsurgical methods had an injury recurrence rate of 87%

  • Arthritis of the shoulder occurred in up to 40% of those who had shoulder instability injuries

Management of these Injuries

Non-Surgical Management

  • This usually involves immobilisation of the shoulder for a brief period and early rehabilitation. Returning to sport is not recommended until pain-free motion is achieved.

  • Restrictive braces that prevent overhead motions can be helpful to limit overhead motions. However these can sometimes limit function.

  • Returning to early to rehab or resuming training or playing will increase risk of recurrence.

Surgical Management

  • If recurring injuries persist, management through surgery may have to be considered.

  • Early surgery removes provides definitive management of shoulder injuries.

  • However this usually means that there is a certain time period out of action.

Minimize Chance of Shoulder Dislocation

  • Strengthen - The shoulder relies on strong tendons and muscles to make sure it is kept stable. If these are kept strong there is less risk of re-injury and also this can relieve pain. This can be achieved through exercises such as weight-lifting.

  • Flexibility - Strengthening the shoulder muscles will help to restore the range of motion and preventing any further injuries. Gently stretches after strengthening exercise can reduce muscle soreness and keep muscles flexible.

There are of course many treatments available to help with shoulder injuries and dislocations. Physiotherapy is a fundamental element during the rehabilitation process and is usually one of the first steps involved in the recovery process for injuries. Our physios have vast experience in dealing with shoulder injuries and can treat individuals who may or may not have had surgical intervention. If surgery is required or recommended, successful preoperative rehab is also very important to postoperative surgical outcomes. Our physios can help to guide rehab and provide treatment where necessary so if we can help you get in touch with us!

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