Joint Instability

Joint instability occurs when tissues (including muscles, ligaments, and bones) weaken or deteriorate. Although joints are flexible, they also require stability and strength in order to remain healthy. Since muscles and tendons keep bones and joints in the correct positions, they are crucial for maintaining joint stability. When these tissues weaken, joints become fragile and less flexible.


A number of symptoms are associated with joint instability. Some of the most common include:

  • Pain and discomfort, often following an injury
  • Frequent dislocation of the affected joint(s)
  • Weakness of the joint and the surrounding areas
  • Tenderness in the affected area


There are several factors that can make an individual at a higher risk of developing joint instability. An injury or accident can lead to the dislocation of a joint or injury to a ligament, causing issues with stability. Additionally, repetitive movements and overuse of a joint can also cause instability over time. Also known as being “double-jointed,” multidirectional instability can occur from birth in individuals who have looser joints than normal.


Treatment options for joint instability may vary, depending upon the cause, location, and severity of the condition. Initially, more conservative forms of treatment are initially recommended, such as rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and the use of a splint or a brace. If these methods are not effective, then a minimally invasive surgical procedure may be necessary to help provide stability to the affected joint. Treatments for joint instability within the shoulders, elbows & hands, hips, knees, and anklesmay vary.

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