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Comprehensive Shoulder Instability Treatment in Pittsburgh, PA

Shoulder Instability

The shoulder is the most flexible joint in the body, and when it is injured, it could lead to partial or complete dislocation. Shoulder instability is a condition in which the shoulder joint is not as stable as it should be, causing frequent injuries like dislocation or subluxation. Shoulder instability symptoms can vary, depending on the type of instability present. They may include:

  • Pain with certain movements of the shoulder.
  • Popping or grinding sound that may be heard or felt.
  • Swelling and bruising of the shoulder.

This chronic condition that causes frequent dislocation of the shoulder can be due to a number of reasons, including:

  • A dislocated shoulder - This occurs when the ball at the top of the shoulder (humerus) pops out of the socket (glenoid). This can happen suddenly, due to trauma, or it may happen gradually over time. Because of pressure on nerves and blood vessels, partial paralysis may occur below the dislocation.
  • Subluxation - This is when the shoulder joint partially dislocates. This can happen suddenly, due to trauma, or it may happen gradually over time. After subluxation or sensation changes like numbness, visible deformation and loss of function in the shoulder might occur.
  • Loose or torn ligaments - Ligaments are the tissues that connect bone to bone. If they are loose or torn, they can no longer provide adequate stability to the shoulder joint.
  • A weakened rotator cuff - A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm. These muscles and tendons help to stabilize the shoulder joint. If they are weak, they can no longer provide adequate stability to the shoulder joint.

Your orthopaedic shoulder specialist can diagnose shoulder instability based on your symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination. During the physical examination, a shoulder instability test is done to assess the condition of the shoulder joint. This is done by physically examining the shoulder and assessing the range of motion, as well as testing the stability of the shoulder joint. An x-ray or MRI may also be ordered to get a better look at the condition of the shoulder joint and confirm your diagnosis.

When treating shoulder instability, your orthopaedic specialist will likely try concervative treatments first. The goal of conservative treatment for shoulder instability is to restore stability, strength and a full range of motion.

Conservative treatment measures may include:

  • Medications - Over-the-counter pain medications and NSAIDs can help reduce the pain and swelling. Steroidal injections may also be administered to decrease swelling.
  • Rest - Rest the injured shoulder and avoid activities that require overhead motion. A sling may be worn for 2 weeks to facilitate healing.
  • Ice - Ice packs should be applied to the affected area for 20 minutes every hour.
  • Closed reduction - Following a dislocation, your surgeon can often manipulate the shoulder joint, usually under anesthesia, realigning it into proper position.

When conservative treatment options fail to improve your condition, surgery may be necessary to restore normal function. Shoulder instability surgery is performed to improve the stability and function of the shoulder joint and prevent recurrent dislocations. It can be performed arthroscopically, depending on your condition, with much smaller incisions.
Arthroscopy is a surgical procedure in which an arthroscope, a small flexible tube with a light and video camera at the end, is inserted into a joint to evaluate and treat the condition. There are many benefits to an arthroscopy when compared to the alternative of open shoulder surgery, such as:

  • Smaller incisions.
  • Minimal soft tissue trauma.
  • Less pain.
  • Faster recovery.

Following your shoulder instability surgery, your arm may be placed in a sling for three to six weeks. Physical therapy will likely be recommended to improve your shoulder mobility and strength.

Shoulder instability can be a painful condition that comes with frequent and unpredictable dislocations. This kind of pain and discomfort can be a hindrance in your daily life, making simple activities far more difficult. However, long-lasting shoulder instability treatment is possible with Dr. Brian Kelly.

At the office of Brian J. Kelly MD, our team will make sure that you find pain relief. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, don’t wait. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with an experienced shoulder specialist near you.


X-ray view of a woman walking

Quality Shoulder Impingement Treatment

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome

Shoulder impingement, also called swimmer's shoulder or tennis shoulder, is one of the most common causes of pain in the shoulder. The condition refers to the inflammation of the tendons of the shoulder joint. Symptoms of shoulder impingement can include:

  • Pain when reaching overhead or behind the back.
  • Pain when lying on the affected shoulder.
  • Weakness in the arm.
  • A clicking or popping sensation in the shoulder joint.

Shoulder impingement can be caused by several things, including overuse, injury, or degenerative changes in the shoulder joint. Impingement usually occurs in young and middle-aged people who engage in physical activities that require repeated overhead arm movements. The pain may be due to bursitis (inflammation of the bursa) overlying the rotator cuff or tendonitis of the cuff itself. In some circumstances, a partial tear of the rotator cuff may cause impingement pain as well.

Shoulder impingement treatment usually begins with conservative measures such as rest, ice, and pain medication. Physical therapy may also be recommended to help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint. If these measures do not provide relief, your orthopaedic specialist may recommend arthroscopic surgery to remove the bony growth or repair the rotator cuff tear.

Shoulder arthroscopy is a minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical procedure performed for joint problems. This procedure is performed using a pencil-sized instrument called an arthroscope, which consists of a light system and camera that projects images of the surgical site onto a computer screen for your surgeon to view. Arthroscopy is useful in treating diseases, conditions, and injuries involving the bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder joint.

Dr. Brian Kelly is experienced in performing successful shoulder impingement surgery for patients. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, don’t let it take you out of the game. At the office of Brian J. Kelly MD, our team will provide a unique diagnosis and treatment plan to relieve your pain and improve mobility. Contact us today or schedule an appointment online to get back to doing the activities you love.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I need arthroscopy surgery?

When conservative treatment such as medication and therapy fails to relieve pain and disability, shoulder arthroscopy is indicated to treat the following shoulder conditions:

  • Shoulder impingement.
  • Rotator cuff tear.
  • Frozen shoulder or stiffness of the shoulder joint.
  • Shoulder instability.
  • Biceps rupture.
  • Damaged cartilage or ligaments.
  • Bone spurs or bony projections.
  • Arthritis of the collarbone.

Dr. Kelly can help you decide whether surgery is the right treatment option for you.

What should I expect from shoulder arthroscopy surgery?

Your orthopaedic surgeon performs shoulder arthroscopy under general or regional anesthesia. You may be positioned lying down on your side with your arm propped up or sitting in a semi-seated position. Sterile fluid is injected into the shoulder joint to expand the surgical area, so your surgeon has a clear view of the damage and room to work. A button-sized hole is made in the shoulder and the arthroscope is inserted. Your surgeon can then view the images captured by the camera in the arthroscope on a large monitor. Surgical instruments are introduced into the joint through separate small holes to remove and repair the damage to the joint. After surgery, the instruments are removed, and the incisions are closed with stitches or small sterile bandage strips.

What does post-operative care for shoulder arthroscopy entail?

After shoulder arthroscopy surgery, the small surgical wounds take a few days to heal and the surgical dressing is replaced by simple Band-Aids. The recovery time depends on the type and extent of the problem for which the procedure was performed, but pain medications are prescribed to keep you comfortable. The arm of the affected shoulder is placed in a sling for a short period as recommended by your orthopaedic specialist, and physical therapy is advised to improve shoulder mobility and strength after the surgery.

I need a shoulder orthopaedic surgeon, how can I get started?

If you are looking for experienced shoulder surgeons near you in Moon Township, Brian J Kelly MD is prepared to assist you with everything that you need. Dr. Brian Kelly uses cutting-edge techniques to effectively treat disorders of the shoulder, elbow, and knee.

Don’t let shoulder instability and impingement keep you from the sport you love. If you are ready to get back in the game, let Dr. Brian Kelly help. You can contact us by phone at 412-262-7800, or visit our office at 725 Cherrington Pkwy, Suite 200, Moon Township, PA 15208.

Shoulder Pain? Call Dr. Brian Kelly Today

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