Rotator Cuff Injuries in Spring Sports



As the temperature rises in New England, so does the occurrence of sports-related rotator cuff injuries. Spring sports such as baseball, golf and tennis all place a considerable amount of stress on the rotator cuff, and producing injuries in the area. Injury to the rotator cuff weakens the shoulder, impairing performance in sports activities as well as everyday activities such as brushing your teeth or getting dressed.

No matter what the level of the athlete – recreational, high school, college, or even professional – it is important to maintain a healthy rotator cuff as it is used in almost all athletic processes. Most occurrences of rotator cuff injury in young adults are caused by a traumatic injury, like a fall in which the athlete will experience a snapping sensation and immediate pain and weakness of the upper arm. As the team physicians for the Bryant University Bull Dogs, Blackstone Orthopedics & Sports Medicine physicians have seen an abundance of rotator cuff injuries that were caused by both overuse of the area and sudden falls during sports activity.

These injuries include:

Bursitis or Tendinitis

Bursitis or tendinitis, inflammation of the tendons or bursae, can occur as a result of overuse through repetitive activities, such as swimming, batting, or weight lifting. Typically, these conditions are treated by modifying the activity causing the symptoms of pain and a course of physical therapy for the shoulder.

Rotator Cuff Tears

Rotator cuff tears are often the result of heavy lifting, sports or falls. This type of injury can occur in one of two ways; acute tears as a result of a fall or strong jerking motion, or degenerative tears as a result of wearing down of the tendon occurring slowly over time. Athletes are especially vulnerable to overuse tears, particularly tennis players and baseball pitchers. Non-Surgical treatment would consist of modifying your activity and often results in pain resolution. If pain continues, rotator cuff surgery may be needed to repair the rotator cuff tear.

Instability of the Shoulder

Instability (dislocations) are a common sports injury that occurs when the head of the upper arm bone is forced out of the shoulder socket. This can happen as a result of sudden injury or from overuse of the shoulder ligaments. Many dislocations require surgery. There are two options to correct this condition, open surgical repair, or arthroscopic surgical repair and an extensive physical therapy program to support optimal healing and rehabilitation.

Athletes looking to prevent rotator cuff injuries should take frequent rest breaks to reduce the load on the shoulder. Exercises to strengthen the shoulder and encourage range of motion can also be used, such as stretching a straight arm across the chest or stretching the arms over the head to condition the area.  In the case that you are experiencing shoulder pain, icing the affected area using a cloth-covered pack for no more than 10 minutes at a time can help reduce swelling. If pain persists for more than 2-3 days, see a doctor for an examination of the area.

Athletes experiencing on-going pain or weakness in the shoulder region while exercising or during routine daily activities should seek medical attention to prevent any further damage. The physicians and therapists at Blackstone Orthopedics & Sport Medicine are specially trained and Board Certified in the latest sports medicine related clinical, surgical and rehabilitative techniques to insure patient’s optimum recovery and return to their peak level of activity. Schedule an appointment at one of our locations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Visit our website or call today at 800-725-3037.

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  • spring sports