An Age-Based Approach to Anterior Shoulder Instability in Patients Under 40 Years Old: Analysis of a US Population

Devin P. Leland, Christopher D. Bernard, Lucas K. Keyt, Aaron J. Krych, Diane L. Dahm, Joaquin Sanchez-Sotelo, Christopher L. Camp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: While a large volume of literature has focused on risk factors for anterior shoulder instability, the rates of recurrence are inconsistent and require additional population-based epidemiologic data. Purpose/Hypothesis: The purpose was to report the effect of patient age on the number of instability events before physician consultation, rate of surgical stabilization, recurrent instability, and progression to osteoarthritis in patients <40 years old with anterior shoulder instability, utilizing an established US geographic population. We hypothesized that younger patients would be more likely to experience multiple episodes of instability before evaluation, undergo surgery, and experience recurrent instability after surgical intervention. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiologic study. Methods: An established geographic database of more than 500,000 patients was used to identify patients <40 years of age with anterior shoulder instability between 1994 and 2016. Medical records were reviewed to obtain patient characteristics, history, imaging, surgical details, and outcomes. Patients were divided into 5 groups based on age (≤15, 16-20, 21-25, 26-30, and 31-40 years) at initial instability. Comparative analysis was performed to identify differences between groups. Results: The study population consisted of 654 patients with a mean follow-up of 11.1 years (range, 2.0-25.2 years). This resulted in 118 patients (18%) ≤15 years of age at initial instability; 250 (38%), 16 to 20 years; 110 (17%), 21 to 25 years; 80 (12%), 26 to 30 years; and 96 (15%), 31 to 40 years. Of patients ≤15 years old at initial instability 47% had 3+ instability events, compared with 12% of patients aged 31 to 40 years (P <.001). At 10 years of follow-up, patients ≤15 and 16 to 20 years old demonstrated the highest recurrent instability rates of 38.8% and 47.1% after nonoperative management, respectively. Patients 16 to 20 years old demonstrated the highest rates of both surgical intervention (40.4%) and recurrence after surgery (24.8%). Patients 31 to 40 years of age were significantly more likely to develop clinically symptomatic osteoarthritis (15.6%) than all other age groups. Conclusion: In a US epidemiologic population of patients <40 years old, the rate of recurrent anterior shoulder instability was roughly one-third after initial physician consultation. Younger patients, particularly those ≤15 and 16 to 20 years of age, were more likely to have experienced multiple instability events at the time of initial evaluation, require surgery, and experience recurrent instability compared with older patients. For every year of decrease in age at initial instability, the risk of recurrent instability or surgical intervention after physician consultation increased by 4.1% and 2.8%, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • dislocation
  • recurrence
  • shoulder instability
  • subluxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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