Glenohumeral Dislocation Arthropathy: Etiology, Diagnosis, and Management

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2019 Apr 1;27(7):227-235. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-17-00056.


Dislocation arthropathy describes the development of progressive degenerative changes of the glenohumeral joint in the setting of instability. Although the specific etiology remains unclear, the trauma of a single dislocation, repetitive injury associated with recurrent dislocations, changes in shoulder biomechanics, and complications associated with instability surgery have all been implicated in its development. Pain and restricted range of motion are the most common patient complaints. Conservative management, consisting of pain control, activity modification, and physical therapy, is the first-line treatment after the development of arthropathy. If conservative management fails, multiple surgical options exist. Arthroscopic débridement can be attempted in young, active patients and in those patients with mild-to-moderate arthropathy. Open subscapularis lengthening and capsular release can be done in patients with prior instability repairs that are overly tight. In young patients with minimal bone loss and glenoid wear, surface replacement arthroplasty and hemiarthroplasty are surgical options. In older patients with moderate-to-severe arthropathy, total shoulder or reverse shoulder arthroplasty is the preferred treatment option. Further study is needed to better predict which patients will develop dislocation arthropathy and will thus benefit from early surgical intervention.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arthroplasty, Replacement
  • Arthroscopy
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Debridement
  • Humans
  • Joint Diseases / diagnosis
  • Joint Diseases / etiology
  • Joint Diseases / physiopathology
  • Joint Diseases / therapy*
  • Joint Dislocations / diagnosis
  • Joint Dislocations / etiology
  • Joint Dislocations / physiopathology
  • Joint Dislocations / therapy*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods
  • Pain Management
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Scapula / surgery
  • Shoulder Dislocation / diagnosis
  • Shoulder Dislocation / etiology
  • Shoulder Dislocation / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Dislocation / therapy*
  • Shoulder Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Shoulder Joint / physiopathology
  • Shoulder Joint / surgery*