Repetitive motion injuries are quite common for baseball players, thanks to the increased shoulder stress of the overhand throwing motion. This type of injury is especially common for pitchers, but it may also occur for those who play tennis, volleyball and even some track and field events.
Once a problem starts to develop, you may experience pain while throwing or at the end of the motion. As the injury worsens, athletic performance can diminish as velocity and accuracy decline. The source of the pain is typically tendon inflammation in the rotator cuff of the shoulder. Without effective medical attention and treatment, you may experience inflammation of the bursa, external or internal impingement (connective tissue rubbing on bone), tendonitis or even a tear in the rotator cuff.
Many well-conditioned athletes believe they are immune to repetitive motion injuries, however, anyone who participates in sports can develop shoulder pain. De-conditioned athletes do face a higher risk of problems, as inflammation and the associated discomfort commonly result from muscle weakness, especially after excessive workouts or overly arduous practice.
If you or a family member develops should pain, your doctor may recommend icing the arm, especially after use, and possibly suggest laying off the damaging activity for a short time. Anti-inflammatories may be prescribed, alone or with cortisone injections for severe cases. Physical therapy is also crucial to recovery. The time required for a full recovery varies in each case, based on the severity and the condition of the individual but, in all cases, a healthy dose of patience is required for healing.
Whenever possible, attempt non-invasive treatment options first, before considering surgery. If those therapeutic interventions don’t improve the pain, ask your physician to evaluate the injury and recommend additional treatment options.