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Shoulder Instability Treatment Options

Treatment options for shoulder instability are chosen based on the cause of the instability and the extent of damage to the bones and ligaments in the shoulder. Treatment options are individualized for each patient based on their characteristics and condition. There are non-operative and surgical treatment options.

Dr. Frank Petrigliano has extensive experience treating shoulder instability. He will determine whether conservative treatment can help you. When an individual suffers repeated partial or complete dislocations, has torn ligaments or a torn labrum, or stretched and loose ligaments, surgery may be recommended to repair the support structures in the shoulder.

Many patients experience relief from their symptoms with conservative treatment. When it fails to relieve pain and instability, surgery may be indicated.

When instability results from a shoulder dislocation or partial dislocation treatment will include temporary immobilization with a sling or brace, icing to reduce pain and swelling, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.

For chronic instability from all causes (including but not limited to repeated dislocations or subluxations, torn ligaments and/ or a torn labrum) conservative treatment will include:

  • Rest
  • Activity modification to avoid aggravating symptoms
  • Over the counter anti-inflammatory NSAIDS to reduce pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the rotator cuff and shoulder muscles to restore strength and range of motion

Arthroscopic stabilization surgery

Arthroscopic stabilization surgery is minimally invasive surgery to repair soft tissues. Usually, it is an outpatient procedure performed under anesthesia.  Several small incisions will be made to insert the arthroscope to view inside the joint and to insert tiny instruments to repair damage to the soft tissues. Various procedures are available to stabilize the shoulder. The technique chosen depends on cause of the instability, and the type and extent of damage.

After surgery, the arm will be immobilized in a sling for about a month, followed by surgeon-directed physical therapy. Complete recovery takes about six months. Return to sport may be permitted when the shoulder has returned to pre-injury status or when Dr. Petrigliano determines you are ready.

Arthroscopic surgery may be offered following the first episode of shoulder dislocation in individuals at risk for recurrent dislocations like those younger than age 25 and those who participate in contact sports.  It may also be offered to patients with symptomatic recurrent instability of the shoulder; and for patients with activity-related pain due to labral tears that did not respond to conservative treatment.

Open surgery

Open surgery may be necessary from some patients. It requires an incision over the shoulder to provide direct vision to repair the tissues.

Rehabilitation after surgery

The patient’s commitment to a full rehabilitation plan is essential to the success of the surgical procedure. The decision to operate and the choice of technique are individualized to each patient based on age, sports, and physical demands.

Why choose Dr. Petrigliano?

Dr. Frank Petrigliano is an orthopaedic surgeon who was fellowship trained in sports medicine and shoulder surgery at the prestigious Hospital for Special Surgery where he provided care to athletes of all ages. He currently serves as the head team physician for the LA Kings hockey team and associate team physician for USC Athletics. Dr. Petrigliano is a renowned orthopaedic surgeon and researcher who employs state of the art treatments and procedures to get you back to your active life and back to sport. He always treats his patients with compassion and respect. Dr. Petrigliano is located in El Segundo California, and serves greater Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, the South Bay, and the Santa Clarita Valley. Contact Dr. Petrigliano to schedule a consultation today.

At a Glance

Dr. Frank Petrigliano

  • Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at USC
  • Chief of the Epstein Family Center for Sports Medicine
  • Team physician for the LA Kings and USC Athletics
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