What Is Loose Shoulder?

Loose shoulder, also referred to as multi-directional instability, occurs when the tissue that forms a capsule around the shoulder joint stretches. Once loosened, the slackened tissue can then no longer effectively hold the ball of the humerus within the shoulder socket. This often leads to frequent shoulder dislocations. Some individuals with loose shoulder also suffer shoulder subluxations when their joint slides partially out of place.


Strain placed upon the shoulder joint can cause loose shoulder, both through overuse or sudden injury. Generally, loose shoulder affects:

  • “Double-Jointed” Men and Women: Often, patients who have a condition that causes joint laxity or what is commonly known as “double-jointedness” sometimes experience looser joints throughout their entire body than the average person. This may cause shoulder instability, subluxation or even complete dislocation.
  • Athletes: Competitors in sports that involve repeated motion and overhead activities may encounter loose shoulder. The shoulder capsule and ligaments are stretched by these recurring, strenuous movements. Because of this, volleyball players, swimmers, baseball pitchers, basketball players and golfers are some of the athletes most at risk for multi-directional instability.
  • Patients with Previous Shoulder Dislocations: Chronic instability often results from prior shoulder dislocations. When the shoulder becomes dislocated, ligaments may tear and heal looser than before. Patients are more likely to experience loose shoulder after their shoulder capsule has already been weakened. In fact, 80% of patients under 35 who have sustained a severe shoulder dislocation will develop chronic instability.


Common symptoms of loose shoulder include:

  • Repeated shoulder dislocations or subluxations
  • Pain in the shoulder region
  • Repeated episodes of the shoulder “giving out” (inability to hold or bear weight)
  • An anticipatory sensation of the shoulder feeling loose or slipping
  • Discomfort associated with certain movements or activities

The OrthoCARE Treatment Approach

If you suspect you might be suffering from loose shoulder, it is important to seek medical attention before your condition worsens. At OrthoCARE Institute, a division of the vertically-integrated Lumin Health network, our team of highly-trained orthopedic experts provide individualized care for a variety of needs, including loose shoulder.

Depending on the severity of your loose shoulder, our orthopedic surgeons often recommend conservative treatments like focused physical therapy, which can strengthen the muscles that hold the shoulder in position. In serious cases, however, minimally invasive surgery may be necessary to restore your full range of motion and comfort. Patients who have not found satisfactory benefits from physical therapy and those who have sustained a traumatic dislocation that caused lasting tears are likely ideal candidates to explore surgical options.

Minimally invasive surgery yields many benefits when compared to traditional open surgery, including:

  • Shorter recovery times and hospital stays
  • Lessened blood loss and trauma to surrounding areas
  • Reduced chance of scarring due to much tinier incisions

For more information about loose shoulder, OrthoCARE Institute or our minimally invasive surgical options, call us directly at 972-255-5588 or fill out the form on our Contact Us page. We look forward to helping you restore your shoulder, so that you can get back to doing the things you love!

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