Instability happens when tissues — such as muscles, ligaments, and bones — weaken. Once they are weak, they no longer hold the bones of the joint in proper place.
Joints are flexible, allowing for movement. However, they also must be stable and strong.
Strong ligaments hold the bones of joints in place while the joints are in motion and at rest. Muscles and tendons hold the bones of the joints in place most often when moving.
Common cases of joint instability include:
Risk factors that may cause joint instability include:
UPMC Orthopaedic Care provides a range of treatments for joint instability. Our skilled surgeons are leaders in repairing unstable joints.
We deliver our diagnoses and treatments in state-of-the-art facilities, offering the right care for your individual needs.
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Instability symptoms depend on which joint it affects.
Symptoms can include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. He or she will move the joint to test the strength and looseness of the tissues surrounding the joint.
You may also need imaging tests, such as:
The treatment of instability depends on the location of the joint.
Treatment options range from conservative to more aggressive.
Conservative treatments include:
If conservative treatments do not help your joint instability, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair the ligaments so the joint regains stability.
Instability surgeries can be minimally invasive or open.
After instability surgery, you may need to keep the affected joint still.
A period of rehab can follow to help recover strength and range of motion.
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