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Four Common Shoulder Injuries in Baseball

Shoulder pain is a common complaint among baseball players, especially among pitchers. Pitchers rely on their shoulders to throw pitch after pitch and both the repetition and force of movement places significant stress on the rotator cuff and the surrounding tissue. The result is a higher incidence of shoulder injuries.

Diagnosing the precise cause of pain in the shoulder can be a challenge and often begins by asking the patient questions about the history of the injury. After that, the doctor may decide to take x-rays or an MRI to diagnose one of the four common shoulder injuries listed below.

  1. Muscle Strains
  2. A muscle strain is often due to over-stretching of the muscle tissue which results in a tear of the tissue. The small blood vessels located in that area may also be damaged and bruising may occur. Common symptoms include muscle pain, tenderness, swelling, stiffness and inflammation. The best way for baseball players to avoid muscle strains is to warm up the area properly. If a strain does occur, rest, ice, compression and elevation are needed.

  3. Tendonitis/Bursitis
  4. Shoulder bursitis and rotator cuff tendonitis are similar diagnoses for inflammation of a particular area within the shoulder joint. Repeated muscle and tendon strains result in Tendonitis and Bursitis and the symptoms include severe shoulder pain and weakness, especially when the rotator cuff is in motion. Baseball players with this diagnosis often experience pain when trying to use their arm above their head, pain while sleeping at night and pain over the outside of the shoulder.

  5. Joint Sprains
  6. If your shoulder injury involved the acromioclavicular joint, it is probably a sprain, another common shoulder injury for baseball players. A sprain is a result of the ligaments around the acromioclavicular joint stretching or tearing, resulting in a separated shoulder. Characterized by immediate, severe pain and inability to move the shoulder, this common shoulder injury should be taken seriously. A major sprain will cause complete joint from bone separation, which may damage the adjacent cartilage and nerves. Treatment for a joint sprain often includes ice, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and a sling. If you have had a sprained shoulder, you may help to prevent injuring it again by practicing shoulder strengthening exercises recommended by your doctor or physical therapist.

  7. Stress Fractures
  8. Stress fractures, small cracks in the bone caused by overuse and high impact, are difficult to diagnose and often require an MRI. This injury develops gradually and is often caused by repetitive motion and stress. Symptoms of stress fractures include dull, localized bone pain that worsens with repetitive use and localized swelling at the pain site. Stress fractures heal with time and rest, but ice and anti-inflammatory drugs can be used to decrease pain and swelling. Calcium and vitamin D supplements may also help prevent future stress fractures.

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