Sports-related Shoulder Pain and Injuries

Shoulder pain can affect anyone, but if you’re an athlete active in sports involving excessive, repetitive and overhead motion such as swimming, tennis, baseball, volleyball, rowing and weightlifting, the probability of shoulder pain and injury are significantly increased.

Additionally, with the rise in organized youth sports, there has been an increase in shoulder pain and injuries in pediatric and adolescent athletes, especially in throwing sports like baseball.   Although less common in this age group, shoulder injuries in younger patients may lead to long-term disabilities and deformities.

With this in mind, it’s important to pay close attention to possible sports-related shoulder pain, no matter what age – and to seek the guidance of a physician if you are experiencing unusual or persistent pain (or weakness).

Rotator Cuff Tears:  A common sports-related shoulder injury
The rotator cuff is one of the most important components of the shoulder. Comprised of a group of muscles and tendons that hold the bones of the shoulder joint together, the rotator cuff muscles provide individuals with the ability to lift their arm and reach overhead.

Rotator cuff tears are commonly related to overuse caused by a sports activity, but anyone who does overhead work like painters or carpenters also have an increased chance of tears.   A rotator cuff tear may also result from an acute injury, such as a fall, or it may be caused by normal age-related wear and tear with degeneration of the tendon.

Rotator cuff injuries are painful, with night pain being common.  If you have a rotator cuff injury, you might not be able to sleep comfortably on the side of your injured shoulder.  Pain may also be experienced with certain movements, especially overhead.   Another sign is if the feeling of pain in the front of your shoulder radiates down the side of your arm.

Other common sports-related shoulder injuries

·    SLAP tear.  This is a tear to the ring of cartilage (labrum) that surrounds your shoulder’s socket.  A SLAP tear tends to develop over time from repetitive, overhead motions, similar to those that cause rotator cuff tears.  If you have a SLAP tear, you may notice a clicking, grinding, locking, or popping sensation in your shoulder.
·    Shoulder instability.  Shoulder instability happens when your ligaments, muscles, and tendons no longer secure your shoulder joint. As a result, the round, top part of your upper arm bone dislocates (the bone pops out of the shoulder socket completely), or subluxates (the bone partially comes out of the socket).
·    Dislocation is characterized by severe, sudden onset of pain. Subluxation may be accompanied by short bursts of pain.  Other symptoms include arm weakness and lack of movement.  Swelling and bruising on your arm are visible changes you may also notice.

Early detection is the key to preventing serious shoulder injuries!
Some people will have a tendency to ignore the pain and “play through” a shoulder injury, which only aggravates the condition, and may possibly cause more problems.  People also may underestimate the extent of their injury because steady pain, weakness in the arm, or limitation of joint motion will become almost second nature to them.

Our shoulder specialists at POSMC are proficient in a number of procedures to help patients recover from issues ranging from sports-related shoulder injuries to degenerative diseases.  Voted as the Best Doctors in D Magazine, we are proud to stand head and shoulders above the rest: for all ages…all sports and all orthopedics!

To schedule an appointment with one our shoulder specialists, contact our scheduling department today at 972-250-5700 or request an appointment online.