The traditional treatment of a first-time anterior shoulder dislocation of reduction and a period of immobilisation should be challenged. The purpose of this review is to assimilate and present the current literature on acute anterior shoulder instability. This involves consideration of the pathoanatomy, natural history and the more recent evaluation of treatment outcomes, which appropriately incorporate quality of life measures in addition to recurrences. There is ample evidence to consider primary stabilisation as an option for treatment in the high-risk group, less than 25 years of age.
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