Shoulder Instability | What Does It Mean If Your Shoulder Feels Out Of Place But Is Not Dislocated

May 15, 2023

Have you ever experienced an unsettling feeling in your shoulder, making it seem like it’s out of place but not quite dislocated? The sensation in itself can be strange and uncomfortable, leaving you confused about how to handle it. However, an out-of-place shoulder isn’t something that can’t be fixed.

Whether it was an injury, overuse, or an underlying health condition that caused it, you can easily get it treated with proper care and a professional diagnosis. However, if you want to know what it means to have your shoulder feel out of place without it being dislocated, make sure to read this blog to find out.

Why Does My Shoulder Feel Like It’s Out of Place?

Most cases of an out-of-place shoulder are related to shoulder instability. It’s when your shoulder joint shifts slightly from its place, making it difficult to move your arm from the pain and stiffness. This usually is not a bad sign, nor is it considered to be life-threatening.

Shoulder instability is basically a condition when your shoulder bones aren’t as stable as they should be. This is often triggered by a sudden trauma or injury like falling or getting hit in the shoulder. If the head of your upper arm bone slides even a little from the socket, shoulder instability can take place.

Shoulder Instability vs. Dislocated Shoulder

It can be confusing to differentiate between shoulder instability and a dislocated shoulder. However, both of them are different from one another.

Where shoulder instability is a little less dangerous, dislocation is anything but. A dislocated shoulder occurs when the tissues and ligaments strapping the joints get torn or inflamed. This causes the joints to move completely from their place, unable to stay in the same spot. On the other hand, shoulder instability is a sign of weak muscles.

What To Do When Your Shoulder Feels Out of Place But It Isn’t Dislocated

Even though shoulder dislocation and instability are not the same, the pain and discomfort are often similar. Here are some of the different methods you can try to help soothe the ache of an unstable shoulder:

  1. Rest
    Since shoulder instability is nothing serious, with proper rest and care, along with some light stretches, you can regain the movement of your arms.
  2. Apply Ice To The Affected Area
    There’s nothing an ice compression can’t fix. If your shoulder joint hurts or swells, place an ice pack over the area and let it heal the inflammation.
  3. Take Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers
    OTC pain-relieving medications work best to relieve joint pain. They also give you the strength to move your arm gently.
  4. Visit a Specialist
    When all else fails, consult a specialist for your next move. Depending on the severity of the case, you may require physical therapy or, in rare cases, surgery to stabilize the shoulder joint.


A shoulder that feels out of place doesn’t always mean it’s dislocated. Sometimes the pain is related to shoulder instability instead. Mufaddal Gombera, MD, has the experience and skills to treat all such injuries. So, if you’re dealing with a sore shoulder, don’t miss out. Contact us for more information at (713) 794-3457 or visit the Texas Orthopedic Hospital at 7401 Main St, Houston, TX 77030, United States.

Dr Gombera Cover

Dr. Gombera

Dr. Gombera, earned his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. Expanding his expertise, he undertook a sports medicine and arthroscopy fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Recognized as a Super Doctors Rising Star and honored for patient care excellence at the University of Michigan, he holds multiple certifications and licenses, solidifying his dedication to delivering exceptional medical services.



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