Tips for Diagnosing Shoulder Instability and Its Direction

    Three shoulder specialists discuss their protocols for evaluating and managing patients with shoulder instability.

    Shoulder instability is fairly common, especially in young, active patients. Diagnosing anterior shoulder instability, the most prevalent type, is fairly straightforward: It has a relatively well-defined pattern of shoulder pain and disability. Patients generally present with specific symptoms or episodes of instability and pain.

    Things get tricky with posterior shoulder instability: Not only is it much less common, but it can also have a vague presentation. Posterior shoulder instability can go undiagnosed, which puts the patient at risk for greater disability.

    Diagnosing multidirectional shoulder instability is even less clear-cut: The presentation is variable, and it can be mistaken for the asymptomatic glenohumeral hyperlaxity that can occur with anterior or posterior shoulder instability.

    To find out how expert shoulder specialists diagnose instability, we talked with 3 faculty at ICJR’s Las Vegas Shoulder Course: Felix “Buddy” H. Savoie, III, MD; Robin R. Richards, MD, FRCSC; and Jeffrey S. Abrams, MD. We asked them about their protocols for diagnosing and managing shoulder instability, as well as tips for ensuring successful treatment.

    Click on the images below to hear their comments.

    Protocol for diagnosing instability and its direction

    Protocol for treating anterior vs. posterior instability

    Tips for successful treatment of shoulder instability

    Producer: Susan Doan-Johnson; Director and Post Production: Charles Maynard