Redefine HealthCare 732.906.9600

Shoulder Instability

    The shoulder was designed for mobility, which also makes it one of the most unstable joints in the body. The shoulder consists of three osseous joints and one articulation. The stability of the shoulder is dependent on the muscles, ligaments, the glenoid labrum and the joint capsule. There are varying degrees of instability as well as various types of instability. The three main types of instabilities are Unidirectional instabilities, multidirectional instabilities, and subluxation.

    The wait to see the doctor wasn’t long. The office personnel were friendly and helpful. The doctor explained everything in an easy to understand way. She answered all of my questions and checked what I was capable of doing.


    Unidirectional Instability

    The most common of these is unidirectional instability, which occurs when the ligaments or muscles become lax from an acute injury or overuse injury involving repetitive overhead motions. Anterior instability is the most common unidirectional instability.

    Multidirectional Instability

    Although less common then a Unidirectional instability, multidirectional instabilities are normally caused by repetitive overhead activities. Swimmers, baseball players, and volleyball players tend to be prone to this type of injury. Individuals who have had previous dislocations of the shoulder are also prone to having a multidirectional instability.


    • Weakness of the rotator cuff and laxity of the glenohumeral ligaments are the most common cause of shoulder instability.
    • General ligamentous laxity may predispose an individual to instability or dislocation.
    • Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) at work, or overuse activities are common in people who participate in sport activities and individuals who have jobs that require performing activities of a repetitive nature, like working on an assembly line.
    • Those participating in activities like swimming or activities characterized by overhead motion like tennis, softball, baseball, volleyball, overhead throwing and other repetitive sport activities may aggravate the shoulder, resulting in shoulder instability.
    • Sudden trauma or accident like a fall on the shoulder or a fall when the arm is placed in an abducted externally rotated position (hand behind head) can also cause a shoulder dislocation.



    • General tenderness of the shoulder area
    • Discomfort with movement, especially with overhead activities
    • Pain with overhead activities or sleeping on the effected side
    • Feeling that the arm is “dead” after repeated activity
    • A feeling that the shoulder will “go out” when reaching up and behind the head. This is called the Apprehension Sign.

    Treating Shoulder Instability

    Conservative treatment of shoulder instability is the first line of action. This includes pain medication to reduce inflammation and associated pain. In addition, a regiment of exercises to improve rotator cuff strength and shoulder stability should be initiated. In more severe cases of instability involving the glenoid labrum, surgical intervention may be necessary.

    Shoulder Instability

    Medicine Intervenes

    Procedures that your physician may recommend and perform in addition to physical therapy.

    • Relocation and initial immobilization of the dislocated shoulder
    • REST and ICE
    • The use of NSAIDS (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
    • Steroidal Injections to reduce inflammation
    • Pain medication to reduce the discomfort and allow the patient to perform the recommended exercises
    • Surgery to correct underlying pathology and avoid instability and repeated dislocations. This may include labral repairs or procedures to tighten the shoulder capsule or ligaments.


    Most patients recover full function following a course of conservative care of pain management to alleviate pain and reduce swelling and physical therapy to strengthen and stabilize the shoulder. Those with more involved situations such as labral tears, chronic dislocations and/or rotator cuff tears will require surgery to restore full function.

    I’ve been coming to Redefine for awhile now I was recommended here by family members. They have helped me tremendously. I have severe back damage and with out their helped I don’t think I would be walking. Drs Freeman and Ceraulo are fabulous they take the time to listen to your problems and do everything they can to help you manage/ relieve your pain. I highly recommend them


    Page Updated on May 20, 2022 by Dr. Freeman (Pain Management Specialist) of Redefine Healthcare Dr. Eric D. Freeman

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.

    Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.

    Why Choose Redefine Healthcare?
    • Same-day
    • Convenient locations throughout
      Central & Northern NJ
    • In-network,
      tier-one facility
    • 24 hour turnaround on needed
      notes and documentation
    • Comprehensive and
      compassionate pain care
    • Non-surgical, interventional pain care
      in Edison, NJ & Union, NJ


    Call at: 732.906.9600 For Same day Appointment

    Our Locations
    732.906.9600 732.906.9300


    2500 Morris Ave.,
    Suite 220
    Union, NJ 07083


    10 Parsonage Road
    Suite 208
    Edison, NJ 08837


    922 Main Street
    Suite 201
    Paterson, NJ 07503

    West Caldwell

    185 Fairfield Ave.,
    Suite 2A
    West Caldwell, NJ 07006


    836 Broadway
    Bayonne, NJ 07002

    West Orange

    445 Pleasant Valley Way
    West Orange, NJ 07052

    Contact Us We are here to assist you