By Russell S. Petrie, MD
Although some orthopedic conditions are more common within certain age
groups than others, shoulder problems are now becoming an equal opportunity
affliction in all age brackets. Why? Because the rise in popularity of
extreme sports?such as daredevil BMX riding and snowboarding–has
young people literally throwing their joints out of whack.
Dislocation is one of the two most common shoulder conditions we see. It
is most generally caused by a traumatic injury. Football players, snowboarders,
surfers, and rugby players are particularly at risk of suffering this
type of injury. Once a dislocation occurs, there is a high likelihood
that it will recur. In fact, if the first dislocation happens in a young
person before the age of 20, there is a 95 percent probability that another
dislocation will occur. An arthroscopic procedure called labral repair
can successfully reattach the ligaments to the bone to prevent the dislocation
from recurring. Recovery following surgery takes between four and six months.
Rotator cuff tears are another common shoulder problem that we see, primarily
in the older population. They are caused by a combination of overuse and
poor blood supply. Very active people, especially those who play ?overhead?
sports such as tennis, volleyball and racquetball, are especially prone
to develop rotator cuff tears. The rotator cuff eventually wears out because
it doesn?t heal very well with repetitive stress over a long period of
time. Depending on the type of tear, arthroscopic surgery may be employed,
but some repairs will need to be done as an open procedure. It can take
up to a year following the procedure to fully recovery from surgery because
shoulders heal so slowly.
If you are experiencing pain, stiffness or a general weakness in your shoulder,
be sure to have it checked. Arthroscopy has given us an even better understanding
of how shoulders work, and how to treat them when they don't?