Biomechanics of posterior shoulder instability - current knowledge and literature review

World J Orthop. 2018 Nov 18;9(11):245-254. doi: 10.5312/wjo.v9.i11.245.


Posterior instability of the shoulder is a rare condition and represents about 10% of shoulder instability. It has become more frequently recognized in the last year, even though it is more difficult to diagnose than anterior shoulder instability. As this form of shoulder pathology is somewhat rare, biomechanical knowledge is limited. The purpose of our study was to perform an extensive literature search, including PubMed and Medline, and to give an overview of the current knowledge on the biomechanics of posterior shoulder instability. The PubMed/Medline databases were utilized, and all articles related to posterior shoulder instability and biomechanics were included to form a comprehensive compilation of current knowledge. A total of 93 articles were deemed relevant according to our inclusion and exclusion criteria. As expected with any newly acknowledged pathology, biomechanical studies on posterior shoulder instability remain limited in the literature. Current biomechanical models are performed in a static manner, which limits their translation for explaining a dynamic pathology. Newer models should incorporate dynamic stabilization of both the rotator cuff and scapulothoracic joint. There is a current lack of knowledge with regards to the pathomechanism of posterior shoulder instability, with no consensus on appropriate treatment regimens. Further investigation is therefore required at both basic science and clinical levels.

Keywords: Anatomy; Glenohumeral; Humerus; Posterior shoulder instability; Scapula; Shoulder complex.

Publication types

  • Review