It is important to note that overhand throwing adds stress on the shoulder, especially to the structure that maintains stability of the shoulder. Among sports that involve throwing, the added stress is repeated several times and can result to a variety of overuse injuries. Even though throwing injuries of the shoulder typically occur in baseball, it can also occur in sports that entail constant overhand movements such as tennis, volleyball and some track and field events.
When an athlete throws repeatedly in high speeds, substantial stress is placed on the structures that keep the humeral head centered within the glenoid socket.
The phases involved in the pitching movement, particular the late cocking and follow-through add great stress on the shoulder. Once a structure such as the ligament system is weakened due to constant stress, other structures take on the overload. As a consequence, there are various throwing injuries of the shoulder that can occur. Remember that the labrum and rotator cuff are the high risk structures prone to injuries. To learn to recognize and manage shoulder injuries caused by constant throwing, enroll in a first aid class today.
Usual throwing injuries of the shoulder
- Biceps tendinitis and tears occur due to the irritation and inflammation of the upper biceps tendon. The pain in the front part of the shoulder and weakness are the characteristic symptoms. In some cases, the damage to the tendon caused by the condition can cause a tear. A torn tendon can cause abrupt, piercing pain in the upper arm and some can even hear a popping sound once it breaks.
- SLAP tears involve damage to the upper region of the labrum which is the area in which the head of the biceps tendon connects to the labrum. This can occur both in the front and rear of this connection point. The usual symptoms include a catching or locking sensation and pain during shoulder movement.
- Rotator cuff tendinitis and tears occurs when a tendon or muscle is overly worked, thus resulting to inflammation. The initial symptoms include pain that radiates from the front of the shoulder to the side of the arm and can be present during throwing or at rest. Tears often start with fraying and once the damage progresses, the tendon can tear.
- Impingement occurs when the rotator cuff tendons on the rear of the shoulder are pinched between the humeral head and glenoid. This can lead to the partial tearing of the rotator cuff tendon. This can also cause damage to the labrum which causes part of it to peel off from the glenoid. This can also be caused by slackness in the structures in the front of the joint as well as tightness in the back of the shoulder.
- Instability of the shoulder occurs once the humeral head slips out of the socket. Once the shoulder is loose and moves out of place repeatedly, it is considered chronic shoulder instability.
- Scapular rotation dysfunction is characterized by drooping of the affected shoulder and the most common symptom is pain at the front part of the shoulder. It is important to note that the chest muscles tighten as a response to the changes in the upper back muscles.
- Glenohumeral internal rotation deficit occurs once the ligaments in the front of the shoulder are stretched and become loose. As a result, the soft issues in the back of the shoulder tighten which leads to loss of internal rotation. This will put an individual at high risk for rotator cuff and labral tears.