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Thrower’s Shoulder Specialist

Coastal Empire Orthopedics

Orthopedic Surgeons & Sports Medicine located in Savannah, GA

Thrower’s shoulder is an umbrella term for a number of conditions affecting athletes brought on by repetitive overhand motions. If shoulder pain is affecting your ability to participate in the activities you love, Jonathan Shults, MD, offers expert treatment. At Coastal Empire Orthopedics in Savannah, Georgia, Dr. Shults provides both nonsurgical therapies and the most advanced forms of minimally invasive surgery to treat thrower’s shoulder. Find out more by calling Coastal Empire Orthopedics today or scheduling your appointment online.

Thrower's Shoulder Q & A

What is thrower’s shoulder?

Thrower’s shoulder is a problem that affects athletes who make repetitive overhand motions. Thrower’s shoulder is a common problem in sports, such as:

  • Baseball
  • Volleyball
  • Tennis
  • Track and field

If you play these types of sports and repeatedly throw or swing your arm overhand at high speed, it puts excessive strain on the structures that keep the head of your humerus (upper arm bone) in the glenoid socket of your shoulder blade.

What conditions does thrower’s shoulder include?

Conditions that come under the umbrella of thrower’s shoulder include:

SLAP tears

A SLAP (superior labrum anterior to posterior) injury affects the top (superior) section of the labrum inside your glenoid. A SLAP tear affects both the front (anterior) and back (posterior) of the place where the biceps tendon attaches to your labrum. 

Symptoms of a SLAP tear include a catching or locking feeling in the joint and deep pain in the joint when you move your shoulder or arm in a certain way.

Biceps tendinitis

Biceps tendinitis is inflammation and irritation of the upper biceps tendon caused by repetitive overhand motions. Symptoms include pain and weakness in the front area of your shoulder. Sometimes tendinitis damage can lead to a tear in the tendon. You might hear a pop or snap sound as the tendons tear, and feel a sudden, sharp pain in your upper arm.

Rotator cuff injuries

The rotator cuff is a network of muscles and tendons that gives your shoulder its range of motion. Overhand throwing is a prime cause of rotator cuff irritation. Symptoms include radiating pain that goes from the front of your shoulder to the side of your arm.

Muscles and tendons in your rotator cuff can also tear, either because of the fraying caused by tendinitis or a traumatic injury.

Shoulder bursitis

The lubricating sac or bursa between your rotator cuff and your acromion (a bone on the top of your shoulder) can get inflamed and cause pain when there’s damage to your rotator cuff tendons.

Internal impingement

During the motion of an overhand throw, rotator cuff tendons in the back of your shoulder might become pinched between the head of your humerus and your glenoid. Internal impingement can lead to the partial tearing of rotator cuff tendons. It can also damage your labrum, which might separate from the glenoid.

Shoulder instability

Shoulder instability often develops after a dislocation, but in throwers, it tends to be due to a loosening of the ligaments in your shoulder caused by years of overhand motion.

How is thrower’s shoulder treated?

The treatment Dr. Shults recommends for thrower’s shoulder might vary depending on the cause but is likely to include:

  • Activity modification
  • Applying ice packs
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Physical therapy
  • Movement modification
  • Joint injections

If these approaches aren’t helping, Dr. Shults can perform minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.

If you have symptoms of thrower’s shoulder, call Coastal Empire Orthopedics today or book an appointment online.