Popular fall sports place high stress on this complex joint

Popular fall sports place high stress on this complex joint

Many injuries in the fall come from contact sports such as football and ice hockey. However, non-contact sports can create significant injury from repetition and overuse.

“Popular fall sports place high stress on the shoulder,” says Dr. Mark Neault, a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics and Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Once school starts, it’s not long before I begin seeing athletes participating in overhead sports who come to the office complaining of shoulder pain, “ he adds.

Tennis, volleyball and baseball – all sports using an overhead motion, involve repeated high stress on the stabilizing components of the shoulder. Cocking the arm up and behind the head with subsequent follow-through places significant stress on structures that keep the ball of the shoulder joint in the socket.

Dr. Neault explains, “The shoulder is one of the most complex joints of the human body.” Four tendons called the rotator cuff stabilize the head of the humerus (upper arm). The biceps and muscles in the upper back work together to provide stable support for the shoulder. When one of these structures becomes weakened due to repetitive stress, other structures must handle the overload.

A variety of shoulder injuries can affect an overhead athlete. Sometimes it’s an acute snap, such as in a tendon injury, that brings the athlete to the office. Other times, the patient will complain of a nagging achiness that keeps performance suboptimal. In either case, initial treatment is often medical management.

“I encourage my injured athletes to try ice and anti-inflammatories as the first-line of treatment for a painful shoulder,” suggests Dr. Neault. “In addition, physical therapy can go a long way in improving shoulder pain and strengthening weak shoulder structures.” When these conservative treatments fail to provide relief, or when the initial injury is profound, additional imaging such as a MRI can be instrumental in viewing the soft tissue structures not visible on plain x-ray.

“The good news is that minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical techniques can now be used to repair a variety of shoulder injuries – decreasing post-surgical pain, shortening recovery and hastening a healthy return to sport,” says Dr. Neault.

Those overhead athletes – both young and old – suffering from chronic shoulder pain may want to seek orthopedic consultation, as a variety of treatments are available to help keep play both fun and comfortable.

Dr. Mark Neault is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with Advocate Medical Group (AMG) Orthopedics at Advocate Condell Medical Center. His practice specializes in sports medicine and disorders of the shoulder. He is currently accepting patients in his Lincolnshire office. For more information or to speak to Dr. Neault call (847) 634-1766.

Lori Recker is a physician assistant with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics. She has more than 20 years of experience as a physician assistant, working in family practice, OB/GYNE and orthopedics. Prior to becoming a physician assistant, Lori worked in health care policy in Washington, D.C. as both a Congressional staff member and a lobbyist. As a health enews contributor, she appreciates the opportunity to highlight the surgical talent of the physicians she works with and to supplement patient education. Lori resides in Libertyville with her family and enjoys living in the community where she practices.

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Lori Recker
Lori Recker

Lori Recker is a physician assistant with Advocate Medical Group Orthopedics. She has more than 20 years of experience as a physician assistant, working in family practice, OB/GYNE and orthopedics. Prior to becoming a physician assistant, Lori worked in health care policy in Washington, D.C. as both a Congressional staff member and a lobbyist. As a health enews contributor, she appreciates the opportunity to highlight the surgical talent of the physicians she works with and to supplement patient education. Lori resides in Libertyville with her family and enjoys living in the community where she practices.