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Shoulder Injuries in Professional Baseball Players: A Continuing Puzzle

Professional baseball players struggle to return to a high level of play after biceps tenodesis (BP) surgery, according to research presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Specialty Day in San Diego. The study examined how players with SLAP tears responded to biceps tenodesis.

“Our research showed that of the 17 professional baseball players who underwent biceps tenodesis between 2010 and 2013 only 35% were able to return to their previous level of play,” commented lead author Peter Nissen Chalmers, MD, from the University of Utah Medical Center in Salt Lake City. “Professional baseball players should be informed of the low return to play rates associated with this surgery, and consider all treatment options available.”

The study also showed that ability to return to play varied considerably with position, with 80% of position players able to return while only16% of pitchers were able to return (p=0.028). However, those who did return to full activity, all played at least 10 games at their pre-operative level with no significant change in performance statistics. The study was performed with the approval of Major League Baseball (MLB) and drew from their prospective database containing all major and minor league baseball players who have undergone shoulder surgery since 2010. The minimum follow-up was 2 years.

“While this study data raises some concern over the viability of BT as an alternative to SLAP repair, the sample size is small,” noted Chalmers. “Further study is needed to determine the effectiveness of this treatment approach for professional baseball players.”


The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) is a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship, and includes national and international orthopaedic sports medicine leaders. The Society works closely with many other sports medicine specialists, including athletic trainers, physical therapists, family physicians, and others to improve the identification, prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of sports injuries. AOSSM is also a founding partner of the STOP Sports Injuries campaign to prevent overuse and traumatic injuries in kids.

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