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Sports Injuries of the Shoulder

Shoulder injury during sport can occur as a result of an acute traumatic episode (dislocation) or due to excessive, repetitive, overhead motion, such as throwing, swimming, weightlifting.

Aussie Rules Football is known for its high level of body contact and injury incidence compared to sports like soccer or basketball.

The throwing athlete is at risk of developing a specific set of pathologies and problems in the shoulder. Intense training and regular participation in sports like tennis, volleyball, baseball, javelin throwers may cause significant stresses on the anatomical structures that keep the humeral head centred in the socket.

This can cause pain, sub-clinical instability and significant dysfunction affecting sports-performance as well as work.

Common throwing injuries in the shoulder include:

  • Biceps tendonitis and tears – affecting the long head of biceps tendon that passes through the shoulder joint and is attached to the superior labrum.
  • SLAP tears – tears affecting the soft cartilaginous rim of the glenoid (socket) in its superior aspect.
  • Rotator cuff tendon tears and inflammation.
  • Internal impingement – The rotator cuff tendon at the back of the shoulder can get impinged between the head of humerus and glenoid during repetitive throwing episodes. This can also cause damage to the labrum.
  • Shoulder instability – subluxation episodes.
  • GIRD (Glenoid Internal rotation deficit) – occurs when ligament and capsule structures at the front of shoulder stretch and become lax, but structures in the back of shoulder tighten leading to decreased internal rotation.

The mainstay of treatment of sports injuries of the shoulder is non-operative initially.

Prevention is better than cure of these injuries. Proper muscle conditioning, regular exercise and proper technique is the key to avoiding these injuries.

Initial treatment may involve activity modification, physiotherapy, Ice, Anti-inflammatory medication, strapping and local corticosteroid injections. Arthroscopic surgery followed by a supervised rehabilitation program may be advised by Dr Reddy depending on the injury and if non-operative treatment fails to relieve symptoms.

Learn more about Sports injuries – visit American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website.