When this condition is first diagnosed, treatment involves:
- Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen, to control pain
- Activity modification - avoid activities that make symptoms worse (such as swimming, tennis and other overhead activities)
- Exercises that aim to improve strength in the muscles around the shoulder and hence improve stability
If these measures are tried for a reasonable period of time and the instability persists, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged ligaments around the shoulder under anaesthetic. Options include:
- Arthroscopy - this is when tiny cuts are made around the shoulder to allow a specialised camera and instruments to operate on the inside of the joint. Also known as keyhole surgery.
- Open surgery - this is when a larger cut is made around the shoulder to allow surgeons to look directly at the inside of the shoulder joint.
After surgery, the affected arm needs to be in a sling for a period of time. Physiotherapists can recommend an exercise plan for the shoulder which helps to prevent stiffness, increase the range of movement in the shoulder, and finally strengthen the shoulder.