Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

Originally Published Oct 29, 2019

When the structures surrounding your shoulder aren’t working properly to hold the ball in the socket, this means you suffer from shoulder instability.

In some cases, you may experience pain associated with shoulder instability. For others, it isn’t painful but still prevents you from taking part in all the activities you enjoy or just performing the simplest of tasks.
Here, we’re going over the causes, symptoms, and treatment of chronic shoulder instability with ways our trusted physiotherapists can help.

Causes of Chronic Shoulder Instability

Our shoulders are one of the most mobile joints in our body. It can help you lift and reach from most angles and it can rotate in ways many other joints can’t. But, with greater mobility comes higher instability.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

Whether caused by overuse or a sudden injury, shoulder instability is often associated with subluxation (partial dislocation of the shoulder joint). When the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket, it usually impairs the shoulder’s, albeit limited, ability to stabilise the joint.

Furthermore, shoulder instability can be split up into two categories: post-traumatic and generalised.

Post-traumatic chronic shoulder instability is caused by a shoulder injury like a stretched or torn ligament. Generalised (atraumatic) chronic shoulder instability describes naturally loose joints. In this case, people are typically extra flexible or double-jointed.

It’s important to know which type of chronic shoulder instability you’re dealing with when meeting with your physio. It’ll help in the treatment process, but more on that later.

Chronic Shoulder Instability Symptoms

Of course, everybody is different and will respond to chronic shoulder instability symptoms differently. But, if you’ve recently had a shoulder injury, you’re an athlete, or you’re double-jointed, these are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Pain in the shoulder joint
  • Repeated shoulder dislocations
  • Feeling of the shoulder “giving out”
  • A sensation that your shoulder joint is loose or slipping

It’s important not to push through any of these symptoms as it could lead to tears and irreparable damage to your shoulder and in some cases surgery.

Chronic Shoulder Instability Treatment

The good news is, chronic shoulder instability is treatable in the following ways:

  • Chronic shoulder instability exercises
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Cortisone injections
  • Chronic shoulder instability surgery

If you’re showing symptoms of shoulder instability, the chronic shoulder instability rehab protocol is to start with non-surgical means. Keep in mind, it could take months of physiotherapy and strengthening exercises before you see results.

From there, it can be discussed whether surgery is necessary but our physios are committed to doing our absolute best to avoid the chronic shoulder instability surgery cost.

Exercises to Help Chronic Shoulder Instability

During your chronic shoulder instability rehab, your physio will help you through some strengthening exercises to help hold your shoulder in its proper position and avoid the chance of dislocation as much as possible.

Strengthening exercises for chronic shoulder instability include:

  • Standing row: Using an elastic band or light hand weights, stand with your elbows next to your ribs with arms bent at a 90-degree angle. Squeezing your shoulder blades together, bring your elbows toward the wall behind you before returning to the starting position.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

  • External rotation with arm abducted 90 degrees: Using an elastic band or light hand weights, start with your arm bent at a 90-degree angle with your elbow lifted in line with your shoulder and your wrist out in front of you. Keeping your elbow in line with your shoulder, lift your wrist in line with your elbow, toward the ceiling. Return to the starting position and repeat. Then repeat with the opposite arm.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

  • Internal rotation: Using an elastic band, light hand weights, or without any resistance, stand with your elbow at your ribs, bent to a 90-degree angle with your wrist out in front of you. Bring your arm across your body keeping your elbow close to your ribs. Come back to the starting position and repeat. Repeat with the other arm.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

  • External rotation: In the same starting position as described in the internal rotation exercise, instead of reaching across your body, open your arm away from your body while keeping your elbow at your ribs. Return to the start and repeat. Repeat with the other arm.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

  • Bent-over single arm fly: With your left knee on a bench, bend over to rest your left hand on the same bench. With or without a light hand weight, let your right arm extend toward the ground. Keeping your right arm straight, lift your arm to come in line with your shoulder, palm facing down. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat. Repeat with the left arm.

Is There A Way To Help My Chronic Shoulder Instability?

Before you work on these exercises at home, it’s imperative to see a physiotherapist who can help you determine proper technique and find a personalised program that’s made just for you. Always warm-up and cool down to avoid further injury, too.

Other Physio Inq Resources That Might Help

The Causes Of Shoulder Instability
Common Shoulder Injuries Due to Overhead Sports


Try out our mobile physio service that comes to you at home or the office or you can book an appointment at one of our convenient Physio Inq locations. Give us a call today and let’s get your shoulder back in tip-top shape!

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The information provided on this blog is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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