common shoulder injuries

How to Treat the Most Common Sports-Related Shoulder Injuries

If you suffer a sports-related shoulder injury:

…Treat most SLAP tears with rest and pain medication

…Receive injections and practice stretching for shoulder impingement under a doctor’s instructions

…Discuss injection or surgery options with your doctor for rotator cuff tears

…Visit a physical therapist for faster recovery.

There are few sports where shoulder injuries are not common. The frequent rotation of the shoulder when you’re throwing a ball, swinging a bat or racket, swimming, or swinging, for instance, can wear out the delicate interconnected anatomy of the shoulder. Forceful impacts and falls also can cause acute injuries.

However they happen, sports shoulder injuries require prompt treatment before they get worse. Otherwise, you could be spending the rest of your season on the sidelines.

Here are some of the most common sports-related shoulder injuries and how they are treated so that you can have a fast recovery.

SLAP Tears

SLAP tears have nothing to do with getting slapped. Your shoulders have a ring of cartilage called the labrum that surrounds the shoulder socket. Over time, repetitive, overhead motions can cause tears in this cartilage, and you may begin to feel symptoms such as:

…Achy pain deep in your shoulder.

…Decreased range of motion.

…Shoulder weakness.

…Pain with lifting or throwing movements.

Treatment for SLAP tears begins with nonsurgical methods such as:

…Rest from overhead motions like throwing.

…Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and pain.

…Physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder and improve range of motion.

For the severest cases, a surgeon usually will use arthroscopic surgery to assess and repair tears to the labrum.

Shoulder Impingement

Ouch! What was that? If you feel a pinching sensation when using your shoulder, you might have shoulder impingement.

This condition occurs when one or multiple rotator cuff tendons get trapped between your shoulder bones during movement. Overhead athletes are all at risk for shoulder impingement due to overuse of shoulder muscles, improper technique or sudden injuries.  

Symptoms of shoulder impingement include:

…Painful pinching when moving the shoulder.

…Pain that worsens with overhead movement or sleep.

…Diminished range of motion.

…Shoulder weakness.

A physician can treat shoulder impingement with steroid or cortisone injections. You also will be instructed to modify your activities, practice daily stretching and perhaps seek physical therapy.

If several months of these treatments do not lead to satisfactory recovery, surgery is an option. For shoulder impingement, the surgeon will shave part of the shoulder bone to relieve pressure on your pinched tendons.

Rotator Cuff Tears

This injury is exactly what it sounds like. As with other sports-related injuries, repetitive overhead motions or an acute injury can cause rotator cuff tendons to tear either partially or completely.

You’ll know you have a rotator cuff tear if you experience symptoms like:

…Dull, achy pain in the shoulder and upper arm.

…Pain radiating from the upper shadow down to the elbow.

…Pain that worsens after lying on the shoulder.

…Pain with overhead motions.

…Shoulder weakness.

…Difficulty moving the shoulder.

Initial treatments for rotator cuff tears range from corticosteroid injections or platelet-rich plasma injections to physical therapy. Surgical options include tendon reattachment for full tears or partial-tear trimming if there are small tears. Both can be done with shoulder arthroscopy to minimize trauma and recovery.

Physical Therapy for Sports Shoulder Injuries

Few things will help your shoulder injury recovery like physical therapy. As an athlete, you’ll benefit most from working with an experienced sports physical therapist. They will understand best the unique stress your sport puts on your shoulder and how not only to rehabilitate it but also to improve your performance and prevent future injury.

When you visit your physical therapist, they will:

…Educate you about shoulder function and biomechanics.

…Help you correct improper form.

…Massage your shoulder to facilitate healing.

…Recommend exercises to strengthen shoulder muscles and restore range of motion.

…Teach you how to adjust functional activities to accommodate your recovered shoulder.

True Sports Physical Therapy—Where Maryland Athletes Rehab

At True Sports, we’re sports-focused because you’re sports-focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport.

With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment, and have True Sports get you back to your team.

For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at (401) 946-1672.

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