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Shoulder instability


Picture of Shoulder instability
1 hour
Musculoskeletal & Orthopaedics
Publish Date
04 June 2017
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About this Course

How to diagnose, investigate and manage patients with primary and recurrent shoulder instability.

Shoulder instability is a relatively common injury. The incidence of traumatic shoulder instability in the athletic population is approximately two times greater than in the general population, especially amongst those involved in contact or overhead sports. Instability can be due to acute trauma, repetitive microtrauma or related to congenital issues like generalised laxity. 

Instability is a pathologic condition defined by excessive translation of the humeral head on the glenoid resulting in loss of function. This may manifest as subluxation or dislocation and symptoms include pain and apprehension.

Instability may be passive or active. It is distinct from hyperlaxity which involves the asymptomatic, passive translation of the humeral head on the glenoid and may be beneficial in a sporting environment. Anterior glenohumeral instability encompasses a broad spectrum of clinical symptoms and presentations.

Objectives of this course:

  • Identify risk factors and mechanisms of injury for anterior shoulder instability in athletes. 
  • Be able to diagnose anterior shoulder instability based on a history and clinical examination
  • Be able to order appropriate investigations and understand the typical X-ray findings associated with anterior shoulder instability and indications for high tech imaging
  • Have an understanding of the management options for primary and recurrent anterior shoulder instability in the athlete, including immobilisation, rehabilitation, and open surgical repair.
  • Understand when to refer patients with anterior shoulder instability for further evaluation, including to a physiotherapist, sports medicine physician and orthopaedic surgeon.


This content was created by Dr Helen Joyce Fulcher MBChB, DipPaed, PGCertHSc(Sports Med), in 2017.

Course Content

Shoulder instability Show activities
Shoulder instability
Shoulder instability Quiz