YOUR HEALTH: Back to play after shoulder injury

How does an athlete or weekend warrior know when they can return to the activities they love?
Published: Jan. 3, 2023 at 4:47 AM CST
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BALTIMORE, Md. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - Football volleyball, rugby, biking, or snowboarding can set an athlete up for a serious shoulder injury that requires surgery.

How does an athlete or weekend warrior know when they can return to the activities they love?

Earlier this year, researchers outlined six criteria doctors and shoulder patients should consider before starting up again. Those include pain level, range of shoulder motion, strength, endurance, the way the joints and muscles work together, and confidence.

Ryan Green knows the challenge of becoming injured and wanting to get back to doing something he loves. During a ride last year, Green was going downhill on his mountain bike at about 20 miles an hour and suddenly lost control on loose gravel.

“I fell right on my shoulder,” Green said. “When you can’t even raise your arm above this point, you know, there’s a major issue.”

Orthopedic specialist Dr. John-Paul Rue determined Green had broken a bone that keeps the shoulder joint in place.

“It’s like a golf ball sitting on a golf tee,” Dr. Rue said. “It wants to try to fall off, and the muscles and the tissues around it try to keep it in place. Because of the force, it actually punched through and broke the lip of the bony glenoid, which is the cup, if you will, or the tee.”

Surgery was the only option. Green came through with just some tiny scars to show.

“When I’m doing these tests, I’m watching them, you know, if they are not bothered by it at all or if they’re bothered by it,” Dr. Rue explained.

After 12 months, Green was ready to ride again.

“Doing all the exercises, doing the strengthening, doing the range of motion, it was all necessary to get back to this point, but it was all totally worth it,” Green said

Orthopedic specialists said it’s important that athletes are aware they may not be able to return to the same level of performance as before their injury.

Orthopedists also said there is a high rate of shoulder injuries. That’s why doctors believe rehab and decision-making about returning to play are even more important.

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