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What are the shoulder injuries that occur in the throwing athlete?

The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint. A 'ball' at the top of the upper arm bone (the humerus) fits into a 'socket', called the glenoid, which is part of the shoulder blade (scapula). The labrum is a ring of fibrous cartilage surrounding the glenoid which helps in stabilizing the shoulder joint. A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that attach to the bones of the shoulder joint providing movement and stability to the shoulder.

An athlete uses an overhead throw to achieve greater speed and distance. Repeated throwing in sports such as baseball and basketball can place a lot of stress on the shoulder leading to abnormal gliding of the joints of the shoulder, rotator cuff tears and labrum tears. Thrower's shoulder occurs in athletes participating in sports that demand repetitive overhand motions such as tennis and volleyball.

What are the symptoms of shoulder injury in the throwing athlete?

Throwing injuries can produce pain, numbness, and reduction in the throwing velocity.

Diagnosis of shoulder injuries in the throwing athlete

When you present with symptoms of a throwing injury, your doctor will review your medical history, discuss your athletic activities and perform a thorough physical examination to examine the strength, range of motion, and stability of your shoulder joint. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, and CT scans may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of shoulder injuries in the throwing athlete

Your doctor may suggest conservative treatment such as rest, rehabilitation, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and a modification of activity along with stretching and strengthening exercises. If symptoms remain uncontrolled, surgery may be performed to repair the injured tissues either through open surgery or a less invasive technique (arthroscopy) where a camera and instruments are inserted through a narrow tube. Four to six weeks of rehabilitation is recommended following surgery to prevent stiffness, and improve strength and range of motion.

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