Worldwide, approximately 45 million children and adolescents participate in organised athletics every year and that number is on the rise.
Two types of shoulder injuries suffered by young athletes – dislocation and overuse – appear to respond well to specialised 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.”
The report says that surgically repairing a dislocated shoulder can significantly reduce the likelihood of a young athlete having a recurring injury.
Patients with shoulder dislocations may also benefit from early arthroscopic surgery. “Studies show that performing arthroscopic surgery to repair the labrum reduces the chance of a second dislocation 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 restore the shoulder anatomy to close to what it was before the dislocation. He says “All young patients that have a shoulder dislocation should see an orthopaedic surgeon as soon after the injury as possible 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 practising 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 throwing. Throwing athletes, such as cricket 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 bowling and throwing styles. Stretching exercises that focus on the shoulder area are also important.
“Putting pressure on kids to win can put them at risk of developing problems that they will have to cope with 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.
Source: Medical News Today
For in-depth information on all aspects of this subject, read Human Kinetics’ definitive guide to the diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries: