Anterior Instability in the Throwing Shoulder

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The disabled throwing shoulder is a multifactorial problem. Laxity of the glenohumeral joint is necessary to achieve a satisfactory velocity. Normal wear and tear with throwing may convert this normal amount of excessive translation into instability. Instability in the throwing athlete manifests itself in 2 forms: traumatic anterior instability that happens to occur in a throwing athlete and excessive anterior subluxation because of overuse that occurs in conjunction with the disabled throwing shoulder. In most cases, it is difficult to determine by physical examination or imaging how much laxity is too much; therefore, the managing physician should always err on the side of caution. A trial of rest and rehabilitation should always be attempted before any consideration of surgery. The multifactorial issues in the disabled throwing athlete should be corrected during this phase of treatment, including assessment and treatment of hip abnormalities, restoration of satisfactory core strength, correction of scapular dyskinesis, and an evaluation and correction of any biomechanical abnormalities in the throwing mechanism. Surgical management of anterior instability in the throwing shoulder depends on the mechanism of injury. The traumatic anterior instability patient is managed by acute surgical repair without a shift, utilizing mattress sutures to prevent suture chondromalacia on the humeral head or glenoid. The anterior laxity management centers on the posterior superior labrum, although occasionally the anterior labrum or capsule may be involved as well. Overall, symptomatic anterior instability is less common in the throwing shoulder. Jobe and colleagues are credited with the first successful technique for the correction of anterior instability in the throwing athlete, the anterior capsulolabral reconstruction by a subscapularis split. The success of this technique paved the way for the adoption of the current arthroscopic techniques that are utilized to correct instability in the throwing athlete.

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