Ball of Shoulder Separates From the Socket

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint. Shoulder instability is a condition where the ball of your shoulder joint separates from the socket. It is called a dislocation when it comes out completely. A partial separation is called a shoulder subluxation. Both types can occur because of an injury, genetics, overuse or aging.

If you have shoulder instability, your shoulder can feel loose. You may have muscles, ligaments or tendons that are torn or stretched. Each dislocation or subluxation increases the risk of another in the future.

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

The symptoms of shoulder instability include:

  • Bruising
  • Feeling or seeing the shoulder joint come out of the socket
  • Lower range of motion and weakness in the arm and shoulder
  • Shoulder pain
  • Swelling

To diagnose shoulder instability, your doctor will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam, including a check of the range of motion in your shoulder. Your doctor may also order X-rays and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans of the shoulder.

Your treatment may include:

  • Avoiding certain activities
  • Exercises
  • Ice packs
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Physical therapy
  • Rest
  • Surgery
  • Wearing a shoulder sling or brace

Some patients improve with nonsurgical treatments and return to normal activities. If you do need surgery, rehabilitation and physical therapy will be important after the procedure to strengthen the shoulder and improve your range of motion.

Matches Found

Our Experts in Shoulder Care

Orthopaedics is proud to be a leader in the care of patients with disorders of the bones, joints and spine. Our faculty, clinicians, and researchers have been recognized by U.S. News & World Report, ranking as one of the best hospitals in the nation for in orthopaedic care.

Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

Top-Ranked by U.S. News & World Report

Penn State Health includes the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, ranked as one of the best orthopedic providers in the country by U.S. News & World Report. This honor was earned because our doctors consistently deliver exceptional patient care and outcomes through their commitment to advanced treatments, translational research and provider training.

Coordinated, Specialized Care Through a Dedicated Institute

Our orthopaedic specialists work together through our dedicated Penn State Bone and Joint Institute. There, they focus on providing you with multidisciplinary, tailored care and state-of-the-art treatments and technologies. This produces the highest-quality patient outcomes. All physicians at the institute are fellowship-trained and subspecialize in additional niche areas of orthopaedics, including arthritis care and joint arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery).

Designated as a Blue Distinction® Center

Penn State Bone and Joint Institute is a Blue Distinction Center for Knee and Hip Replacement. This superior designation from BlueCross BlueShield is only given to health care facilities and providers that stand out for their expertise in delivering specialty knee and hip replacement care. Our surgeons specialize in a range of pain-relieving procedures, including partial knee replacement, total joint arthroplasty, joint preservation surgery and complex revision surgery. They perform more than 1,000 joint replacement procedures every year.

Confidence in Treatment Through Education

We developed a special joint replacement education website just for patients undergoing joint arthroplasty. The website takes you step by step through the joint replacement process. From things to consider before choosing surgery to recovery after surgery, you’ll find the information you need to help you feel confident in your decision to undergo joint replacement.

Advancing Orthopaedic Medicine Through Research

The doctors and researchers in our Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center are committed to advancing our field through scientific discovery and education. As the only academic medical center in central Pennsylvania, Hershey Medical Center is a national leader in research, in partnership with Penn State College of Medicine, and on the leading edge of new treatment options, including clinical trials.

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