Shoulder pain is a common complaint in overhead athletes. Overhead throwing places an extremely large amount of stress on the shoulder joint, especially on the structures that help provide stability. Athletes who perform repetitive movements, whether from throwing, swimming or hitting, are prone to a number of throwing injuries. Geo area sports medicine physician and shoulder specialist, Dr. Jonathan Ticker is highly experienced at diagnosing and treating a number of throwing shoulder injuries, including SLAP tears, biceps tendon injuries, rotator cuff tendonitis and impingement.
The design of the shoulder joint is a key factor in throwing injuries. The ball and socket composition allows a wide range of motion, but with that mobility comes the increased risk of instability. The shoulder depends on a strong, sophisticated network of ligaments, tendons and muscles that help keep the joint stable and in its correct position. When athletes throw overhead repetitively, many of these structures begin to break down and change their structure, often leading to shoulder pain and throwing injuries.
Common throwing injuries that cause shoulder pain include:
- SLAP tears
- Biceps tendon tears
- Biceps tendonitis
- Rotator cuff tears
- Rotator cuff tendonitis
- Shoulder impingement
- Shoulder instability
Symptoms Associated with Throwing Injuries
Many throwing injuries in overhead athletes are marked by shoulder pain. Patients may also experience instability, weakness, swelling, loss of mobility, a “popping” or “catching” sensation and difficulty performing overhead motions.
Diagnosis of Throwing Injuries
To begin the process of determining the cause of shoulder pain in an overhead athlete, Dr. Ticker will perform a thorough medical review and physical examination. He will discuss the onset of symptoms, the nature and frequency of athletic activities and any previous throwing injuries. During the examination, Dr. Ticker will assess the affected shoulder’s strength, range of motion and stability. Imaging tests may also be performed. X-rays, an MRI, a CT scan and an ultrasound are all popular imaging tests utilized by Dr. Ticker to view the joint in great detail.
Treatment of Throwing Injuries
The initial treatment of shoulder pain in many patients is non-surgical. Treatment options commonly prescribed by Dr. Ticker include rest, ice, activity modification, anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections and a physical therapy program. Throwing mechanics may also be evaluated in order to help correct body and shoulder positioning that may be causing additional stress on the shoulder joint.
Dr. Ticker may recommend an arthroscopic shoulder surgery if the injury is too severe or if shoulder pain and other symptoms are not alleviated with conservative measures. Many throwing injuries can be treated with a minimally invasive arthroscopic approach. The exact surgical procedure varies for each overhead athlete depending on type of injury, injury severity, patient’s age and patient’s overall activity level.
For additional resources on shoulder pain associated with throwing injuries, please contact the office of Dr. Jonathan Ticker, sports medicine physician and shoulder specialist proudly serving the greater geo communities.