The physicians at AOKC are highly regarded for the treatment of the entire spectrum of shoulder conditions, including athletic shoulder injuries, “Impingement syndrome” and rotator cuff injuries, arthritis, stiff, painful shoulders, and traumatic injuries.
Sports Injuries of the Shoulder:
Sports activities involving the shoulder produce a variety of symptoms and injuries. Fortunately the majority of problems are simple “overuse syndromes”. This results from using the shoulder joint repeatedly in a specific motion without proper conditioning. With fair weather; baseball players, tennis players, and golfers are out in force playing for hours often with little preparation.
The Anatomy of the Shoulder
The shoulder is a ball and socket joint held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that arise from the shoulder blade and rotate the shoulder. The rotator cuff travels under the part of the shoulder blade called the acromion. There is a small fluid filled sac called the bursa between the rotator cuff and acromion. Inflammation of the bursa (bursitis) can be painful. Tears of the rotator may cause pain and weakness in the shoulder.
The labrum is a soft tissue “bumper” in the shoulder that stabilizes the ball (the humeral head) in the socket (the glenoid) and serves as the attachment of the biceps tendon. Shoulder dislocations may cause the labrum to pull off from the front of the glenoid (Bankart tear). Labral tears at the attachment of the biceps tendon at the top of the labrum are called SLAP tears.
One of the most commonly diagnosed problems related to shoulder overuse is impingement syndrome of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles involved in specific critical motions of the shoulder. The “rotators” form a “cuff” of tendon which inserts into the head of the humerus, (the ball at the upper end of the arm bone). When irritated, especially with overhead use of the arm, the tendon may become pinched (or “impinged”) at a specific point inside the shoulder.
Common symptoms include shoulder pain, particularly when the arm is raised above shoulder level. As the irritation progresses, simple motions of the shoulder become painful and the shoulder may begin to feel weak. Night pain may occur, producing limited sleep and interfering with rest. Finally, the irritation may produce a “tear” in the tendon, often requiring surgery to eliminate pain and restore function.
Impingement syndrome is not an injury that one should “play through” and ignore. Once identified, the treatment involves rest and anti-inflammatory medication. Once resolved, specific exercises are used for the rotator cuff, followed by gradual resumption of the initiating activity, (whether it’s sports or house painting).
While this treatment cures a majority of impingement patients, some may require more aggressive measures. This may include injections of anti-inflammatory medication into the area of tendon “impingement”. Physical therapy is also used to teach proper use of the shoulder and rehabilitate the rotator cuff. If all else fails, the final step is arthroscopic surgery to eliminate the area of pinching or “impingement”.
In short, the key to prevention is moderation. Remember that with “overuse” syndromes, you won’t feel the problem right away. One may think everything is great until symptoms begin a day or two later. Don’t try to “play through” or “work out” shoulder overuse, as you may produce further damage. Finally, if there is no response to rest and non-prescription anti-inflammatory, seek help before a simple problem gets serious.
For more information on Shoulder Pain