The shoulder is a complex joint that is made up of several parts. The structure of the shoulder joint is essentially a ball and socket. The top of the humerus (upper arm bone) acts as the ball and fits into the glenoid cavity on the scapula (shoulder blade). Around the glenoid, you have the labrum, a thick band of tissue that stabilizes the upper arm bone as part of the shoulder joint. In addition to this, you also have various systems of ligaments, tendons, and muscles that assist in movement and stability of the shoulder.
In sports, there are many ways that the shoulder can suffer an injury. In contact sports, or sports where an impact to the shoulder is possible, injuries like dislocations and AC joint injuries are common. For athletes that engage in overhand throwing, or other overhand motions, injuries to the rotator cuff and labrum are common.
Common Shoulder Injuries
Injuries to the rotator cuff are especially common among athletes that perform overhand throwing motions. However, they may also occur in athletes that perform overhand motions in sports like volleyball and basketball.
The rotator cuff consists of a group of muscles and tendons that surround and connect to the shoulder. These muscles keep the shoulder in the socket, and they assist with the motion of the shoulder. Injuries that may occur to the rotator cuff include tendonitis, bursitis, and tears. Most rotator cuff injuries are the result of repetitive use, but they can occur in falls. Symptoms include shoulder pain when lifting arm out to the side, arm weakness, and pain that runs down the arm.
Contact sports come with an increased risk of shoulder dislocation. The socket of the shoulder joint is shallow, and this allows for the great range of complex motions that can be made with the arm. Unfortunately, this also makes the shoulder vulnerable to dislocation.
When the shoulder dislocates, it means that the ball at the head of the humerus has come out of the glenoid socket. Often, it is clearly visible that the arm is out of place. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty in moving the arm. It is very important to receive medical attention for a dislocation because damage can occur to the surrounding tissue, possibly leading to a loss of function in the arm. With a simple dislocation, the joint can be manipulated back into the socket through a process known as reduction. However, many shoulder dislocations are accompanied by fractures and damage to surrounding tissue. In these situations, surgery may be required.
A SLAP injury is a type of labral tear that affects the top part of the labrum from the front to the back. The labrum keeps your arm bone in the shoulder socket. These injuries commonly occur in throwing athletes and they can also be the result of an impact or collision. Common symptoms include catching of the shoulder when it is in motion, clicking or popping sounds when in motion, and pain when lifting the arm overhead. In some cases, a SLAP injury can be rehabilitated through rest and rehabilitative exercises, however, there are times when surgery is required.
The shoulder is a part of the body that is especially prone to injury. For this reason, it is important for athletes to take every step possible in the prevention of shoulder injuries.
This is Part 8 of an 11 Part Series:
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Shin Splints
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Tendinitis
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Sprains
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Muscle Strains and Pulls
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Stress Fractures
- (Click Here) for Prevention Tips for Foot and Ankle Injuries
- (Click Here) for Prevention TIps for Knee Injuries
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