Ask the Doctor: Shoulder Pain

 Q. My son often complains his shoulder is sore after baseball practice. Should I be worried?

It’s likely that your son’s pain is due to repetitive overhead throwing. The problem may reside in damage to the muscles/tendons (rotator cuff), soft tissue stabilizers (labrum and capsule), or bone (humeral growth plate). Your son should see a physician if his pain persists or if it’s affecting his performance. A doctor will take a detailed history and do a shoulder-specific exam to determine whether your son may need X-rays or an MRI. While athletes of all ages suffer from irritation of the soft tissues around the shoulder, the young athlete uniquely suffers from growth plate problems. “Little League Shoulder” – a tear in the growth plate caused by hard, repetitive throwing – can cause permanent damage if not diagnosed early. To lessen the risk of developing this problem, coaches should monitor the number of pitches thrown per game, the number of games played per week, and the type of pitches thrown. Fortunately, the vast majority of throwing injuries resolve with rest, ice, analgesics, and physical therapy. For those that do not improve, precise surgical procedures can remedy the problem. All this being said, continue to encourage your son’s participation! Organized sports lay the foundation for a lifetime of exercise and stimulate physical and psychological development.
PatPat Stone, M.D. Orthopaedic Surgeon Center for Sports Medicine & Orthopaedics Locations in Hixson, East Brainerd, Cleveland,
and Downtown on McCallie Ave. 423.624.2696, sportmed.com

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