Both the ankle and shoulder are joints that are susceptible to instability. You have probably never compared the ankle to the shoulder, but they have similarities in that they are joints made of multiple bones. You may not be aware of the fact that the ankle is the juncture where the tibia and fibula meet the heel bone. The shoulder is the juncture where the scapula and clavicle meet the humerus. Both the ankle and shoulder are made of three bones total. The shoulder and ankles are both joints and any malfunction in the tissues that connect these joints will create instability.
Causes of Shoulder & Ankle Instability
Ligaments and tendons connect the ankle and shoulder. These structures hold the bones in place. If there is a tear in these structures, the ankle and shoulder can become unstable. Any misalignment of these structures also causes instability. The ankle is important in walking, running, and jumping. The ankle has free range of motion. This helps us move around without be limited. If you have ever injured your ankle, you understand how limited you are when your ankle cannot perform its usual activities. The shoulder helps us with throwing, reaching, and pulling. Shoulder injuries leave the shoulder stiff and immovable. The shoulder also has a free range of motion. Not being able to move the shoulder limits us.
Instability in the shoulder causes the shoulder to come out of its socket. When the shoulder is dislocated, it must be put back into place immediately. This dislocation may make you feel like you have a larger range of motion, but it is just shoulder instability. Dislocation can result in loose ligaments and tendons. When you dislocate your arm one time, it is bound to happen again. The more it happens, the more the ligaments and tendons holding your arm in place become loose. Eventually, these structures can tear. A tear will prevent stability. When the ligaments and tendons cannot center the shoulder joints, it will remain unstable and persistently come out of place.
Instability in the ankle results in the ankle giving out. It may feel like your ankle just buckles sometimes. The ankle is also held together by ligaments and tendons. The ankle does not typically become dislocated in the same way the shoulder does, but the ankles are easy to strain and sprang. If you play sports, especially volleyball and basketball, you understand just how fragile your ankles are. It takes a while for ankles to heal. When they do, sometimes they are never the same. Constantly straining your ankle makes the ligaments and tendons stretch. This stretching leads to instability. It will seem like your ankle cannot even hold you up anymore.
Symptoms of Shoulder & Ankle Instability
Symptoms of shoulder and ankle instability are very similar. In the shoulder, you will experience constant dislocation. After your shoulder recovers from being dislocated, it will feel like you have a wider range of motion. This is due to the loosening of the tendons holding the arm in place. When you are experiencing dislocated shoulders from minor things, you have shoulder instability. The ankle will constantly give out on you. When you walk, you may even feel unstable. You will feel like you keep twisting your ankle. The smallest of steps may cause your ankle to give out. In both situations, you experience swelling and pain. The tenderness may make it difficult to move the shoulder and ankle joints. The feeling of instability may even lead you not to want to move the joint at all.
Diagnosis of both conditions is made through X-ray. An MRI can be done as well. The doctor will also ask about former injuries and how often the dislocation is happening. If this is a first-time thing, then you may be okay, but if it is persistent, you will need treatment. Medication is only a resource. It does not treat the condition. If medication is given, it is only to decrease the pain and inflammation. Best forms of treatment are physical therapy and making lifestyle changes. Physical therapy will help strengthen the joints. It can give you a better range of motion and teach you ways to prevent constant dislocation. In many cases, physical therapy will increase your stability. If you play sports, you may have to stop until your shoulder or ankle has gained its stability. Constantly involving yourself in things that aggravate the problem does not help. Surgery is an option as well if therapy does not help. The surgeon will repair the tendons and ligaments that are stretched. If there are tears, the doctor will sew those back together.
Instability in the joints leads to a lot of discomforts. If you notice that your shoulder becomes dislocated easily, or your ankle gives out on you a lot, you may have instability in those joints. It is best to get treatment as soon as possible. If you get treated now, you can avoid further dislocations as well as tears in the ligaments and tendons. Surgery is not necessary for instability, but if further damage is done, it may be your only option. Don’t continue with unstable joints. Get treatment and regain your stability.
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