The Unstable Shoulder Module Overview

In this module you will learn a classification system for traumatic and atraumatic shoulder instability that helps guide management. You will learn to perform an accurate clinical examination, indications for diagnostic imaging, how to apply evidence-based, non-surgical management including physiotherapy rehabilitation for glenohumeral instability, and know who to refer for orthopaedic evaluation. 

Classification of Shoulder Instability

Accurate classification of shoulder instability is essential in determining appropriate management, and whether imaging or orthopaedic referral required.  

In this lesson, we cover:

  • Classification of traumatic and atraumatic shoulder instability
  • Pathoaetiology and mechanisms of traumatic and atraumatic instability
  • Pathological basis of the clinical presentations in shoulder instability

Diagnosis of Shoulder Instability

Traumatic and atraumatic instability differ in the structural and neuromuscular mechanisms. An accurate diagnosis is required to ensure appropriate treatment is provided.

In this lesson, we cover:

  • Pathological basis for clinical presentations of shoulder instability
  • Clinical diagnosis of shoulder instability
  • Imaging diagnosis of shoulder instability
  • Orthopaedic referral criteria

Management of Shoulder Instability

Non-surgical management forms the basis of treatment for many patients with instability. Understanding, and being able to assess specific neuromuscular impairments is essential in the physiotherapy management of shoulder instability.  

In this lesson, we cover:

  • Evidence-based non-surgical management of shoulder instability
  • Evidence-based physiotherapy management of shoulder instability
  • Neuromuscular rehabilitation in shoulder instability

Study time: 9  hrs (approx.)


Dr Angela Cadogan

PhD, NZRPS, M.Sports Physio, Dip.MT Physiotherapy Specialist (Musculoskeletal)

Angela is a NZ registered Physiotherapy Specialist (Musculoskeletal). Angela has a Ph.D in Musculoskeletal Diagnostics from AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand (2012) with a sub-specialty in the diagnosis and management of shoulder pain.

She is based in Christchurch, New Zealand where she works as a clinical consultant in her own physiotherapy practice and in a diagnostic Orthopaedic Triage role (Shoulder) with the Canterbury District Health Board. Angela has an ongoing research interest in shoulder conditions and has been an invited keynote speaker at many national and international shoulder conferences.

Angela is the Director of Physio Academy and runs her own online and in-person courses to help upskill other physiotherapists in the assessment and management of the shoulder. For more information visit