Get the facts on common shoulder injuries –
from minor aches and pains to a total dislocation.
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Rotator Cuff Injuries Repeated overhead lifting or throwing can stress the rotator cuff – a group of muscles and tendons attached to the bones of the shoulder. Eventually, a player can suffer from:
- tendinitis, when the tendons become irritated and inflamed
- bursitis, when the bursa, or fluid-filled sacs in the joint, become irritated and inflamed
- rotator cuff tear, when one or more of the rotator cuff tendons is torn, either partially or completely
What To Do Don’t ignore your pain. Rest and ice your shoulder if you have:
- pain when you reach above your head
- pain when you’re reaching behind your body
- pain when sleeping on your shoulder
If any of these persist for more than two weeks, see a sports medicine physician, orthopaedist, or physical therapist.
Frozen Shoulder Characterized by stiffness, pain, and limited range of moment, frozen shoulder often develops after a player has stopped using their shoulder joint normally or undergone surgery. Shoulder movements become difficult and painful due to stiff joint tissue and scar tissue.
What To Do See a sports medicine physician or an orthopaedist. A physician can assess your range of motion, suggest certain imaging tests to rule out other problems, and recommend the best treatment plan for you. Treatment usually involves pain management and range-of-motion exercises to help you recover mobility.
Shoulder Separation These injuries are common in contact sports, particularly hockey and football. A fall or direct blow can separate the collarbone and the end of the shoulder blade – either partially or completely.
What To Do Support the arm with a sling and see a trainer. If you have signs of a severe shoulder separation – such as severe pain, limited range of motion, a popping sensation with motion, or cold and numb fingers – seek medical care as soon as possible.
Shoulder Dislocation A heavy fall or a sudden impact can cause your humerus (upper arm bone) to pop out of its cup-shaped socket. In most cases a shoulder dislocation will coincide with an audible “pop” sound, severe pain, and an inability to move the arm.
What To Do Support the arm with a sling and go immediately to the ER.