Tennis and Shoulder Pain

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it’s important to take heed and be cautious about any activities that will worsen the situation

What is Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain refers to any pain experienced in the shoulder, the complex of structures that includes and supports the clavicle (that is, the collarbone), the scapula (also called the shoulder blade) and the humerus (the upper arm bone.)

A number of joints maintain balance and range of motion within the shoulder, which allows humans to raise, lower, and turn the arm. Because the shoulder has a vast range of motion, the ligaments alone are incapable of supporting every possible motion.

The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that help to stabilize the shoulder. Strength training of the rotator cuff can reduce the likelihood of a long-term health problem arising from athletic use of the shoulder, but tennis players should be alert to any pain they experience.

What Can Shoulder Pain Be Caused By?

There are three major causes of shoulder pain:

  • Direct damage (trauma) to some part of the shoulder bone, muscle, or other tissue.
  • Repetitive stress injuries caused by repeated motion of the shoulder, such as in tennis.
  • Inflammation, which can arise beside repetitive injuries or on its own, often in the joints.

The majority of shoulder problems are caused when soft tissue in the shoulder breaks down.

When to Stop Playing and See a Doctor?

If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it’s important to take heed and be cautious about any activities that will worsen the situation. A sharp, sudden pain anywhere in the shoulder indicates an injury – you should suspend playing for the day.

Repetitive stress injuries and inflammation both develop over a period of time.

Acute inflammation can resolve within hours to days, but repetitive stress injuries may become chronic. If you notice pain that gradually worsens and becomes serious during the serve or overhead, you should discontinue playing until you have had the opportunity to treat the issue.

If pain persists for more than a few days or returns when you resume playing, see a doctor.

The best way to prevent shoulder pain is to moderate activities that cause pain for you. In some cases, this may require you to modify your form so as to continue playing tennis without causing stress to your shoulder, particularly if you are recovering from a previous shoulder injury.

Aspirin and other over-the-counter medication can be used to temporarily relieve inflammation and other sources of shoulder pain. Depending on the specific type of injury, it may respond best to heat or cold. The plan of treatment should be carefully tailored to the individual.

Ongoing care for chronic shoulder pain may include things like ultrasound therapy, which warms and improves blood flow to the deep tissue, and electrical stimulation of the underlying muscles. These techniques help support the natural healing processes of the body.

Ways to Prevent Shoulder Pain

The best way to prevent shoulder pain is to moderate activities that cause pain for you. In some cases, this may require you to modify your form so as to continue playing tennis without causing stress to your shoulder, particularly if you are recovering from a previous shoulder injury.

Strength training of shoulder muscles help support range of motion more effectively and improve your ability to perform for longer periods of time. Functional training and stretching enhance the flexibility of shoulder ligaments and other support structures, making damage less likely.

With help from an expert in orthopedic health, you can get personalized advice to help you safeguard the health of your shoulders – and all the muscles and bones of your body. Here at NY Orthopedics, we offer the latest surgical and nonsurgical approaches to shoulder pain care.

To find out more or to set an appointment, contact us at Northwest Broward Orthopedics!

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