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Treating Sporting Injuries of the Shoulder

Shoulder InjuriesThe shoulder is a multifaceted joint that has a great deal of flexibility. This makes it vulnerable to injury, especially when playing sports. A recent study by researchers in a Canadian hospital which was published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma reported that non-surgical treatments such as physical therapy can be very effective for a common shoulder injury such as dislocation. In fact, Brooklyn-based healthcare centers provide such non-invasive treatments for various types of common sports injuries.

Different Types of Shoulder Injuries

Different types of shoulder injuries can occur in sports:

  • Rotator cuff tears: Shoulder instability occurs when the tendons and ligaments of the rotator cuff get stretched or torn. It is common in sports that involve repetitive lifting or overhead activities. An MRI scan is used to identify the tears early and treat them appropriately.
  • Dislocation: Another common injury is dislocation. For example, this occurs when the head of the humerus bone comes out of the shoulder joint. These injuries are common in football, sports that involve throwing a ball, swimming, racquet games, volleyball, climbing, kayaking and weightlifting. For instance, in football, the shoulder is actively involved in throwing, tackling and blocking. This dynamic joint gets the arms up and rotated about in space, which makes it vulnerable to dislocation. It can get dislocated out of the front or out of the back. After the joint is put back in the socket, the shoulder is placed in a sling and cold therapy and anti-inflammatory medication are used to reduce pain and inflammation. Minor injuries can be effectively treated with physical therapy.
  • Acromioclavicular joint injuries: The acromioclavicular joint is the hard small lump on the top of the shoulder. It is prone to injury in overhead and throwing sports, and can be sprained or dislocated by falls on the joint and tackling.
  • Impingement syndrome or bursitis: This also occurs in sports that involve repeated use of the arm overhead. Bursitis also occurs in older athletes who develop small bony spurs which trap the rotator cuff tendons above the main shoulder joint. Injections and physical therapy can improve the condition.
  • Labral tears: The labrum is a ring of cartilage around the shoulder socket. A Labral tears often cause pain deep in the shoulder and is difficult to diagnose. Movement of the shoulder may cause a clicking sound, and the injury often prevents throwing or hitting at the usual speed or strength.

Just like all sports injuries, shoulder injuries in sports can be prevented with proper preparation. An appropriate strengthening program is required beforehand. The focus of the program should be to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, including those that help hold the ball in the socket.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Sport-related shoulder injuries are usually diagnosed with a thorough exam by a qualified physician specialized in sports medicine. In a professional rehab center in New York, specialists would use imaging techniques such as X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and perform a detailed exam to ensure accurate diagnosis of the condition.

Based on the findings, patients are provided with a personalized treatment plan, which would include a wide range of non-surgical and pain management therapies. Of course, surgery would be recommended if required. Nevertheless, the findings of the Canadian hospital researchers are noteworthy in this context. MedicinePlus reports that the lead researcher concluded, “Doctors should “think twice” before recommending surgery for an AC joint dislocation, no matter how severe. Patients who forgo surgery return to work sooner, experience less disability during the first months after injury and have fewer complications.”

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