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Shoulder Pain Treatment in Athletes

Shoulder Pain Treatment in AthletesShoulder pain refers to chronic pain that occurs in and around the shoulders. The pain may originate within the joint itself or from any of the many surrounding muscles, tendons or ligaments. It can result from a serious injury, strains, accidents, trauma, falls, repetitive shoulder joint movements, poor posture, arthritis, overuse or degenerative conditions and it may worsen with activities or movement of the arm or shoulder.

This condition mostly occurs in athletes who play sports that require rapid acceleration and deceleration of the throwing arm. The athletes group may include tennis players, baseball pitchers, javelin throwers and softball pitchers including those who play handball and water polo. According to a recent report, treating shoulder pain in baseball pitchers and other throwing athletes remains one of the most challenging tasks in sports medicine, despite rising medical knowledge. It was found that the results of the study are not as predictable as the patient, family, trainer, coach and doctor would like to think.

People who are engaged in sports activities such as overhead throwing tend to put extra stress on the shoulder. Being one of the most mobile joints in the body, extra stress makes the shoulder more vulnerable to serious injuries.

Often, it is difficult to diagnose the exact cause of shoulder pain. The shoulder joint comprises four joints and any small problem with any of the specific joints can result in aches that may potentially affect the athlete’s performance. In addition, the same type of pain can occur due to several other causes. For instance, chronic aches in the front part of the shoulder may occur due to rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability and stiffness, rotator cuff tendinitis and several other causes. A systemic approach can help the experienced physician identify the group of findings in the athletes that is not normal.

There are different treatment modalities for this condition. Treatment methods may vary from one person to another and may potentially depend on the severity of pain symptoms. Primarily, a non-surgical treatment modality is highly recommended for this joint condition and this may include physical therapy exercise, TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) and anti inflammatory medications.

Physical therapy exercises improve shoulder functioning thereby enhancing the strength and range of motion. These include therapeutic exercise programs such as gentle strengthening, stretching, and aerobic and isometric exercises to help patients return to their normal activities. TENS uses low-voltage electric stimulation to alleviate pain. Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen provide temporary relief as they do not provide further damage to the shoulder muscles and joints. In addition to the above, radiofrequency ablation (RFA), chiropractic manipulation, cortisone injections and other medications are also used for the effective treatment of this chronic condition.

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