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Immediate Orthopaedic Care Can Help Heal a Young Athlete's Shoulder

New findings indicate that early surgery for acute shoulder dislocation may provide the best results

ROSEMONT, Ill., Feb. 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each year approximately 45 million children and adolescents participate in organized athletics and that number is on the rise. Two types of shoulder injuries that occur in these young athletes appear to respond well to specialized orthopaedic care. According to a paper published in the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery titled, "Adolescent Shoulder Injuries: Consensus and Controversies," surgically repairing a dislocated shoulder can significantly reduce the likelihood of a young athlete having a reoccurring injury.

Patients with shoulder dislocations may also benefit from early arthroscopic surgery. "Studies show that performing arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum (the firm rubbery tissue around the rim of the shoulder socket that is important for maintaining shoulder stability) following an initial shoulder dislocation in young patients results in better patient-reported outcomes and reduces the chance of a second dislocation from more than 80 percent to less than 10 percent," said Dr. Dean Taylor, co-author of the paper and Orthopaedic Surgeon and Professor of Surgery at Duke University Medical Center.

Taylor says this type of procedure helps repair the shoulder anatomy close to what it was before the dislocation. He says "all young patients that have a shoulder dislocation should see an orthopaedic surgeon soon after the injury to discuss both non-operative and surgical treatment options."

Unlike shoulder dislocations, overuse injuries develop over time due to repeated stress applied to the throwing shoulder. Many young athletes are competing and practicing year-round, often focusing on a single sport. This year-round repetitive activity places increased stress on a young athlete's musculoskeletal system and especially on their shoulders if they are involved in a sport that requires pitching and throwing. Throwing athletes, such as baseball players, who experience overuse injuries, can help prevent these problems with proper training techniques and age-specific guidelines.

In throwers, injuries can typically be prevented and treated without surgery. When it comes to protecting the shoulders, young athletes should work with coaches to develop proper mechanics for pitching and throwing styles. Stretching exercises that focus on the shoulder area are also important. It is recommended that young baseball players follow the guidelines on rest and pitch count established by the Little League Baseball organization in order to help prevent and limit overuse injuries.

Warning signs that indicate a young athlete may have a shoulder injury can include:

  • Pain either during or after throwing a ball
  • Chronic pain in the shoulder area that does not respond to rest
  • Feeling a numb sensation in the arm
  • Feeling that the shoulder joint is unstable or "popping out of the socket"

"Putting pressure on kids to win can put them at risk for developing problems that they will have for the rest of their lives," explains Taylor. Seeking help from an orthopaedic specialist early is important in order to try and avoid serious shoulder injuries that can only be repaired with surgery.


More on orthopaedic injuries in young athletes (


Disclosure: The authors did not receive any outside funding or grants in support of their research for preparation of this work. Neither they nor a member of their immediate families received payments or other benefits or a commitment or agreement to provide such benefits from a commercial entity.

SOURCE American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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