Shoulder Instability -- Diagnosis
Most often, a diagnosis of recurrent shoulder dislocations can be made by simply listening to the patient's symptoms. These patients will come in stating that their shoulder pops out of socket, and either goes back in by itself, or has to be put back in by someone else. Sometimes, the tricky part is knowing which way the shoulder is coming out of the socket. It can come out the front ("anterior") or the back ("posterior") or both ("multidirectional"). Your doctor will usually order x-rays, and sometimes an MRI, to get a better idea of what is causing your dislocations (e.g., a torn cartilage, loose ligaments, etc.).
Diagnosing subluxations can be more tricky. There are physical examination maneuvers that your doctor can perform to get a better idea if your shoulder is loose. Sometimes, however, it is not always clear; people with subluxations may not know their shoulder is subluxating, they may simply experience pain. An MRI can occasionally be helpful in this diagnosis.
So how do we treat these problems? Click Next below to learn more: