Most Common Shoulder Injuries in Throwing Athletes & How to Prevent Them

Injuries to the shoulder can be very disabling, especially those affecting your ability to throw. Overhead throwing places extremely high stresses on the shoulder joint and can lead to a wide range of overuse injuries, most commonly occurring in baseball pitchers, volleyball, tennis, badminton and javelin throwers and some track and field events.
In order to keep your shoulders healthy and performing at their best, it’s important to be aware of the most common shoulder injuries in throwing athletes and learn how to prevent them. These include rotator cuff tears, SLAP tears, impingement syndrome, Biceps Tendon Tears and Tendinitis and Thrower shoulder, so you’ll want to pay attention to the information below in order to protect your shoulders before they get worse!

Table of Contents

1. Rotator Cuff Tears

rotator cuff tears

The rotator cuff tear and tendinitis are one of the most common injuries seen in throwing athletes. It usually occurs due to frequent irritation of the tendon resulting in tendinitis. They often begin by fraying gradually progress to full thickness tear. A supraspinatus tear is the most common form of rotator cuff tear.

Early symptoms include pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm. Pain may be present during throwing or other activities, and at rest. As the problem progresses, pain may occur at night, and the athlete may experience a loss of strength and motion.

2. SLAP Tears

Deep shoulder pain particularly, during overhead activities and maximum at late cocking phase. Some may have mechanical symptoms of popping, catching and clicking. This can result in weakness, easy fatigue, and decreased athletic performance.
SLAP Tears
Slowing of the speed of throw or athletic activity and inability to reach preinjury levels often describing it as “dead arm syndrome” This is because of a combination of pain and subjective unease in the shoulder, which is extremely disabling and potentially career-ending to the overhead athlete. The dead arm syndrome is seen most commonly in young athletes (21-30 years) or individuals whose arms have been powerful hyperextended in elevation and external rotation of the shoulder. For years, physicians have been frustrated by poor results with conventional treatment in this group of athletes. In fact, as recently as the 1970s, pitchers with dead arm syndrome were often referred to psychologists and psychiatrists to discover why they “didn’t want to throw”.

3. Impingement Syndrome

This is one of the common pathologies causing shoulder pain. It occurs as a result of compression of the rotator cuff muscles by acromion, coracoacromial ligament and acromioclavicular joint. Repeated compression of cuff and bursa which leads to inflammation and bursitis is the primary cause of pain.

Internal impingement of the shoulder is a common injury that occurs when the rotator cuff muscles, on top of your shoulder, become swollen and irritated. This can happen when you raise your arm and bend it at the elbow. The bursa sac (a fluid-filled sack) between your rotator cuff and acromion bone rubs back and forth against each other. This friction can cause pain as well as a tear or irritation of the rotator cuff muscles.

4. Bicep Tendon Tears and Tendinitis

Like Rotator cuff tears and SLAP tears, Biceps tendinitis and tears are also common shoulder injuries in throwing athletes. The biceps tendon can be irritated, leading to sharp pain over the shoulder. If a tear occurs, it will most likely be at the end of the long head of biceps tendon. This injury is common in throwing athletes because they repeat one movement with their arm over and over again. Pain in the front of the shoulder and weakness are common symptoms of biceps tendinitis. A tear in biceps tendon may cause a sudden, sharp pain in the upper arm. Many people will hear a popping or snapping sound when the tendon tears.

The most common throwing injuries are rotator cuff tears, SLAP tears, impingement syndrome, biceps tendon tears and tendinitis. There are ways to prevent these injuries. One way is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder blade with exercises such as scapular push-ups. Another way is to build up muscle in the upper back with rows. Strengthening muscles in both of these areas will lessen the chance of injury by building strength and stability in both of those areas. These exercises can be done at home or at the gym, but it’s important for athletes to get a physical before starting any exercise program just in case there are any preexisting conditions that need attention.
“The Cruciates” is a team of highly experienced and skilled surgeons who are in the sports medicine field from a long time and have dealt with complicated sports injuries. Dr. Nagendra Prasad is one of the best arthroscopy surgeons in India who leads the team. The Cruciates is committed to deliver high-quality services and would like to make sure that, you are satisfied with our work. The team Cruciates provides customized treatment and follow up to each patient to make sure that everyone will achieve desired level of recovery and rehabilitation to ensure early return to sports.

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