A shoulder injury is no fun–especially if it is because of a fun game of flag football. Anyone who knows my family knows that we are holiday warriors. There isn’t a holiday that passes that the Noyes family is not out on the football field or softball field playing some sporting event. But, be aware–according to a recent article on medicalnewstoday.com, doctors see a spike in office visits the Monday after Thanksgiving each year usually because of repetitive overhead movements, such as throwing a basketball, making a pass in flag football and swinging a tennis racket.
According to sports medicine doctors at Hospital for Special Surgery, older and newly active recreational athletes are particularly at risk for shoulder injuries. “The most common injuries are soft-tissue shoulder injuries such as tendinitis, labral tears and torn rotator cuff,” says Dr. Stephen Fealy, an orthopedic surgeon in the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
The rotator cuff is the network of tendons that provides stability in the shoulder. A tear can be caused by an isolated traumatic incident (such as a car accident, workers’ compensation injury or slip and fall) but can also result from repetitive wear and tear. Rotator cuff tears are less common among younger recreational athletes in their 30s and 40s, says Dr. Fealy. Instead, tendinitis and labral tears are the more likely culprits among weekend warriors in that age group.
Tendinitis is caused by general inflammation of the shoulder tendons, including inflammation of the rotator cuff. “Like a torn rotator cuff, tendinitis results from extensive use over a period of time. It causes pain, swelling and tenderness but doesn’t usually restrain everyday activities,” says Dr. Fealy.
A torn shoulder labrum is a tear in the thick tissue or cartilage located at the shoulder socket, which becomes more brittle with age. In middle-aged athletes, this injury is typically associated with frequent participation in higher-energy overhead sports, such as volleyball and baseball.
According to the report, a recreational athletes experiencing shoulder pain and swelling should ask the following questions to determine whether to seek medical assistance:
- If the shoulder is sore, can you still engage in normal movements? If so, it could be tendinitis that may not require medical assistance. A week of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen could do the trick.
- If it is more difficult to move your arm, are you currently unable to perform an activity that you could do before? If so, you should seek medical attention. Your doctor might recommend an MRI to diagnose tears and possible shoulder separations.
The report also provides the following recovery tips and advice to prevent further injury:
- Do not “baby” your shoulder lest the whole shoulder system tightens.
- Ice is the cheapest and most effective anti-inflammatory. Apply ice twice a day for 20 minutes after any big game.
- Keep your shoulder relatively still at the office. Place your mouse beside your hand so that you don’t have to reach for it and potentially aggravate the shoulder.
- Break a sweat pre-game. Take a short jog around the field to warm up your entire body.
So be careful during the holiday football game or softball tournament and protect that shoulder!
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes often represents clients who suffer shoulder injuries in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, Florida workers’ compensation matters and other personal injuries. His Clearwater personal injury law firm–Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes–has been caring for clients since 1955. Click here for a free case consultation with Attorney Matthew Noyes.