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 by a board certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating shoulder injuries. Arthroscopy has given us an even better understanding of how shoulders work, and how to treat them when they don’t.