Quick Orthopedic Repair Can Save Young Shoulders

MONDAY Feb. 2, 2009 -- Surgery to repair a young athlete's dislocated shoulder may greatly reduce the risk of recurring injury, according to experts who looked at two types of shoulder injuries (dislocation and overuse damage) in children and teens.

"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," article co-author Dr. Dean Taylor, an orthopedic surgeon and professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Center, said in an American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons news release.

Arthroscopic surgery helps repair the shoulder anatomy close to normal, Taylor said. He added that "all young patients that have a shoulder dislocation should see an orthopedic surgeon soon after the injury to discuss both non-operative and surgical treatment options."

The article was published in the February issue of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.

Overuse injuries to the shoulder develop over time due to repeated stress of activities such as throwing a baseball. Overuse damage can be prevented by using proper training techniques and age-specific guidelines. Young athletes should work with coaches to develop proper mechanics for pitching and throwing styles and learn stretching exercises for the shoulder area, the article said.

Young baseball players should follow the guidelines on rest and pitch count established by Little League Baseball.

"Putting pressure on kids to win can put them at risk for developing problems that they will have for the rest of their lives," Taylor said.

Warning signs of a shoulder injury include:

  • Pain either during or after throwing a ball.
  • Chronic pain in the shoulder area that doesn't respond to rest.
  • A numb sensation in the arm.
  • Feeling that the shoulder joint is unstable or popping out of the socket.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about shoulder problems.

Posted: February 2009


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