Management of the unstable shoulder

The shoulder is the most commonly dislocated joint in the human body. The incidence of shoulder dislocation is increasing. Recurrence is common and occurs in as many as 67% of cases. Patients often mention a painful, weak arm and a shoulder that readily dislocates with trivial movements.

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The aim of this review is to provide a simple framework for the clinical assessment, investigation, and treatment of the unstable shoulder for non-specialists and to highlight key patient groups that benefit from early specialist input.