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Shoulder Instability Specialist

David Lintner, MD

Sports Medicine Physicians & Orthopedic Surgeons located in Houston, TX & Kingwood, TX

As your body’s most moveable joint, the shoulder is especially vulnerable to dislocations and instability. Orthopedic sports medicine specialist David Lintner, MD, treats shoulder instability in adults and teens of all activity levels at his two locations in Houston and Kingwood, Texas. Call the nearest office or book an appointment online today to find relief from chronic shoulder instability.

Shoulder Instability Q&A

What is shoulder instability?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that provides a wide range of motion. Shoulder instability happens when the ball (humeral head) slips out of the socket (glenoid). This can result from trauma, such as a bad fall, or from overuse. After you dislocate your shoulder once, your risk for repeat dislocations and instability increases. 

In addition to pain, shoulder instability may cause a variety of symptoms, including numbness or tingling in your arm and a clicking or catching sensation when you raise your arm overhead. 

As head team physician for the Houston Astros Major League Baseball team, Dr. Lintner has extensive experience treating shoulder instability. 

What causes shoulder instability?

The most common causes of shoulder instability include:

Shoulder dislocation

An initial shoulder dislocation is usually the result of a severe injury or trauma. A shoulder dislocation can cause a tear in the labrum, which is the ring of cartilage that helps hold the humeral head in the shallow glenoid socket. This may lead to repeated dislocations or instability.

Repetitive strain

Shoulder instability also affects people who have never had a dislocation. Repetitive strain from overhead motions like swimming or throwing a ball can loosen the ligaments in your shoulder and cause instability. 

Multidirectional instability

A less common cause of shoulder instability is a natural looseness of the joints. Multidirectional instability means the humeral head can pop out in multiple directions, including the back, front, or bottom of your shoulder. This is commonly referred to as being double-jointed.

How is shoulder instability diagnosed and treated?

Dr. Lintner treats all causes of shoulder instability. First, he carefully reviews your symptoms and medical history. He examines your shoulder to check for looseness in your ligaments and may obtain imaging of your shoulder, such as an X-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. 

Then, he recommends the best treatment approach for your particular needs. Treatment usually begins with nonsurgical methods, including physical therapy and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication. If your shoulder instability persists despite these treatments, you may need surgery. 

Dr. Lintner specializes in shoulder arthroscopy, which is a minimally invasive surgical approach. Compared to open surgery, arthroscopy involves less pain and scarring, reduced risk of infection, and a faster recovery.

For expert care of shoulder instability, call David Lintner, MD, or book an appointment online today.