Shoulder Instability Treatment

Shoulder instability is condition where the humeral head frequently slips out or feels loose in glenoid socket, often causing significant pain and weakness, worsening pre-existing injuries or conditions.

At Vitalis Physiotherapy, our treatment of shoulder instability aims to:

What is shoulder instability?

The shoulder is an incredibly mobile and dynamic ‘ball-and-socket’ joint in the body responsible for most arm and upper body movement. Structural issues and pre-existing shoulder injuries can result in the lining of the shoulder joint (capsule), ligaments or labrum being overstretched, causing the humeral head (top of the upper arm bone) to partially (subluxation) or completely slip out (dislocate) of the socket. This is especially evident after shoulder dislocations, where the vulnerability or re-occurrence of slippage is increased or exacerbated.

Question mark

What are the causes?

Shoulder instability typically occurs or worsens over time due to an acute or chronic injury and/or pre-existing shoulder conditions. The three main causes include:

  • Shoulder dislocation/subluxation – significant force or trauma can cause a partial slippage (subluxation) or complete dislocation of the humerus from the glenoid socket, in turn weakening or further damaging the capsule, ligaments or labrum responsible for keeping the humeral head stable in the joint.
  • Hyperlaxity – a dislocation does not need to be a prerequisite to developing shoulder instability, with weakened or torn ligaments (specifically the labrum) contributing to loosening of the structure, increasing instability
  • Genetic predisposition – some people are born with loose ligaments in their shoulder, where only minor injury or no trauma at all triggers instability.

What are the symptoms?

  • Pain – mild to severe; in shoulder/shoulder blade/neck
  • Repeated shoulder dislocations/instances of shoulder ‘giving out’
    • Can be triggered by everyday activites, sports (e.g. throwing), injuries
  • Stiffness/inability to move the arm or shoulder
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Persistent sensation of a ‘loose shoulder’/slippage from joint
  • Muscle weakness/tension/tenderness
  • Co-morbid/differential diagnoses of other shoulder or spinal conditions, e.g. shoulder dislocations, labral tears, etc.

Treatment for shoulder instability

If you suspect you have shoulder instability and/or related symptoms, it is important to immediately see a physiotherapist or medical professional. You may also be referred for imaging tests to determine the cause and extent of the condition.


Physical therapy is highly beneficial in improving strength, range of motion, and reducing pain. At Vitalis Physiotherapy, we tailor a unique treatment plan to aid in your recovery through:

  • Stretching, strengthening and/or conditioning exercises
  • Restoring range of movement
  • Postural improvement
  • Soft tissue mobilisations (massage)
  • Shockwave Therapy
  • Dry needling
  • Taping
  • A unique home exercise program
  • Graded Exposure to load program

If the pain and reduced movement is severe, driving and strenuous activity should be avoided. Your physiotherapist may also advise heat or ice application, rest and if necessary, pain medication. Additionally, they might recommend for you to use neck support or a suitable pillow.

How to book an appointment?

If you have shoulder instability, or you’re looking for a ‘physiotherapist near me’, our physios at Vitalis Physiotherapy can assess your condition to tailor a unique rehabilitation plan to aid in your pain relief and recovery.

All you need to do is just give us a call on 0410 559 856 and request an initial appointment. Please let our friendly reception staff know the background and severity of your condition.

You can visit our FAQs for more information about appointments at Vitalis Physiotherapy.


Need Help?

Are you in pain caused by shoulder instability? Contact Vitalis Physiotherapy now to book in your treatment.

Call our friendly team on 0410 559 856. We’d love to help.

Contact us for more information on treatment

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Sinnamon Park Village

3/58 Oldfield Road, Sinnamon Park Qld 4073


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