An Overview of Shoulder Instability and its Management

Nicholas Greville Farrar, Joby Jacob George Malal*, Jochen Fischer , Mohammed Waseem
Macclesfield District General Hospital, Victoria Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 3BL, UK

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Creative Commons License
© Farrar et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Orthopaedics, Macclesfield District General Hospital, Victoria Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 3BL, UK; Tel: +44 1625 661315; Fax: +44 1625 425873; E-mail:


The assessment and management of patients with instability of the shoulder joint can be challenging, due to the varying ways patients present, the array of different classification systems, the confusing terminology used and the differing potential management strategies. This review article aims to provide a clear explanation of the common concepts in shoulder instability and how they relate to the assessment and management of patients.

There are sections covering the mechanisms of shoulder stability, the clinical assessment of patients and imaging techniques. Beyond that there is a discussion on the common classifications systems used and the typical management options.

Some patients fall into reasonably well defined categories of classification and in these cases, the management plan is relatively easy to define. Unfortunately, other patients can elude simple classification and in these instances their management requires very careful consideration. Further research may help to facilitate a better understanding of management of the patients in this latter group.

Keywords: Shoulder, instability, dislocation, shoulder arthroscopy, subluxation.