Involuntary positional instability of the shoulder in adolescents and young adults. Is there any benefit from treatment?

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2000 Jul;82(5):719-23. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.82b5.9702.


We diagnosed 50 patients (58 shoulders) with a mean age at presentation of 17.3 years, as having involuntary positional instability of the shoulder. They were managed by a programme consisting of a careful explanation, analysis of abnormal muscle couples and then muscle retraining carried out by a specialist physiotherapist. The mean follow-up was two years. Six shoulders had a poor result, but 52 were graded as good to excellent. Nine patients (12 shoulders) relapsed and required further episodes of retraining. In our experience, involuntary positional instability of the shoulder causes symptoms which interfere with normal activities; these can be controlled by a treatment plan of retraining of the muscle pattern with functional benefit. Only 19 of the patients were referred with a diagnosis of positional instability. There should be more awareness of this rather uncommon condition. Surgery is not indicated in these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / rehabilitation*
  • Male
  • Physical Therapy Modalities*
  • Shoulder Joint*
  • Treatment Outcome