Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a condition in which the shoulder joint is loose and slides around too much or becomes dislocated (slips out of the ball and socket joint). Physical therapy may adequately strengthen and rehab the shoulder in some cases, including:

  • If you have a torn labrum that fails to improve with conservative care, the surgeon will repair it. The labrum is the cartilage that lines the rim of the shoulder joint.
  • The Bankart lesion is a tear on the labrum in the lower and anterior part of the shoulder joint.
  • A SLAP lesion involves the labrum and the ligament on the top part of the shoulder joint.

At the end of the surgery, the incisions will be closed with stitches and covered with a dressing (bandage). Most surgeons take pictures from the video monitor during the procedure to show you what they found and the repairs that were made.

Your surgeon may need to do open surgery if there is a lot of damage. Open surgery means you will have a large incision so that the surgeon can get directly to your bones and tissues.

Follow any discharge and self-care instructions you are given.

Recovery can take one to six months. You will probably have to wear a sling for the first week. If you had a lot of repair done, you may have to wear the sling longer. When you can return to work or play sports will depend on what your surgery involved. It can range from one week to several months. Physical therapy may help you regain motion and strength in your shoulder. The length of therapy will depend on what was done during your surgery.