What is Anterior Shoulder Instability?

The shoulder joint has the most movement range of any joint in the human body. Even still, it is capable of being overextended to the point of extreme pain and potential permanent damage. Anterior shoulder instability occurs when the joint is forced forward out of it’s slot and accounts for around 95% of shoulder dislocations. Despite Hollywood’s portrayal of rugged men slamming the bone back into place against a brick wall or car door, a visit to an orthopedic doctor is a must for any dislocation.

An anterior dislocation happens when an outstretched arm is dealt a direct blow, often through being fallen on. For an affected patient, the arm will appear completely rotated and contorted. Often times, the muscles are twisted away from the midline of the arm, resulting is damage to the axillary artery. In some situations, this damage can progress and eventually completely paralyze the deltoid muscle, rendering the entire arm almost functionally useless.

For those who suffer from frequent, reoccurring, dislocations, an orthopedic doctor may be able to diagnose anterior shoulder instability, traditionally defined as two or more dislocations of the same joint within a two year period. A more severe initial injury indicates a greater likelihood for ongoing instability, along a number of other, technical, factors. Furthermore, in contrast to many other physical health problems, younger patients are actually more likely to experience ongoing troubles and pain as a result of a dislocation.

Treatment generally consists of immobilization for some time. Younger patients may require 6-8 weeks while a patient over the age of 40 may fully recover in 1 week. Off course, there are some who argue that immobilization alone may not be as effective as was once thought. Consulting with your orthopedic doctor is the best method to settling on the best treatment plan for your specific situation.

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