What to Know About Shoulder Instability and Possible Glenoid Bone Loss
The shoulder is considered the most mobile joint in the human body. Composed of the humerus (upper arm bone), scapula (shoulder blade) and clavicle (collarbone), the shoulder joint allows patients the ability to lift and rotate the arm, as well as to reach overhead. With this great range of motion we are at risk to develop shoulder instability particularly with sports and repetitive overhead activity. Instability of the shoulder joint occurs when the humerus head is forced out of the glenoid (socket). Certain patients may experience chronic shoulder instability that leads to significant glenoid bone loss. Dr. Mark Getelman, orthopedic shoulder specialist in the Van Nuys, Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles, California area, is an expert in diagnosing and treating shoulder instability particularly the most complex injuries associated with glenoid bone loss.
Shoulder instability may occur from a traumatic shoulder dislocation or repetitive strain placed on the ligaments that causes them to become loose in one direction or multiple directions. Multidirectional instability often occurs in patients with no history of traumatic shoulder injury. Patients affected by this form of instability may experience shoulder hypermobility in multiple directions. Some of these patients may be diagnosed as “double jointed.”
Ongoing shoulder instability is disabling and can become associated with bone loss in certain patients. Once bone loss is diagnosed by Dr. Getelman, many patients are required to undergo more comprehensive surgery to address the issue.
Shoulder Instability Symptoms
Common symptoms of shoulder instability include pain and recurring episodes of the shoulder joint “giving out” and a sensation of the joint feeling loose.
Shoulder Instability Diagnosis
Dr. Getelman will perform a thorough medical review and physical examination to assess degree of shoulder instability and general ligament looseness. X-rays and an MRI or CT scan will also be performed in the majority of cases. The x-rays will help Dr. Getelman determine the extent of glenoid bone loss, while the MRI will display any additional damage to the surrounding soft tissues.