Anterior Shoulder Instability in the Military Athlete


Context: Given its young, predominately male demographics and intense physical demands, the US military remains an ideal cohort for the study of anterior shoulder instability.

Evidence Acquisition: A literature search of PubMed, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Database was performed to identify all peer-reviewed publications from 1950 to 2016 from US military orthopaedic surgeons focusing on the management of anterior shoulder instability.

Study Design: Clinical review.

Level of Evidence: Level 4.

Results: The incidence of anterior shoulder instability events in the military occurs at an order of magnitude greater than in civilian populations, with rates as high as 3% per year among high-risk groups. With more than 90% risk of a Bankart lesion and high risk for instability recurrence, the military has advocated for early intervention of first-time shoulder instability while documenting up to 76% relative risk reduction versus nonoperative treatment. Preoperative evaluation with advanced radiographic imaging should be used to evaluate for attritional bone loss or “off-track” engaging defects to guide comprehensive surgical management. With complex recurrent shoulder instability and/or cases of clinically significant osseous lesions, potential options such as remplissage, anterior open capsular procedures, or bone augmentation procedures may be preferentially considered.

Conclusion: Careful risk stratification, clinical evaluation, and selective surgical management for at-risk military patients with anterior shoulder instability can optimize the recurrence risk and functional outcome in this population.



  • The following authors declared potential conflicts of interest: Brett D. Owens, MD, is a paid consultant for MTF/Conmed and Mitek and receives royalties from Springer, Elsevier, and Slack. John M. Tokish, MD, is a paid consultant for Arthrex and Dupey-Mitek. 

Autor / Fonte:Brian Waterman, Brett D Owens, John M Tokish Sports Health 2016 September 30