June 28, 2022

Return to Sports After Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocation can be a devastating event for athletes and active individuals. When these injuries occur during sports the first question for the athlete is often “When can I return?” The management of shoulder dislocations has evolved over the years. In past years, multiple dislocations were tolerated. The athlete who dislocated his or her shoulder was treated with a short period of immobilization and allowed to keep playing. However, this approach was detrimental in the end.A recent study by Dickens et al. (see article) examined return to sport after arthroscopic shoulder stabilization (Bankart repair) compared to non-operative treatment. 39 collegiate athletes were followed, 10 of which elected for non-operative treatment (sling and strengthening) and 29 of which elected for arthroscopic repair. Return to play the following season was only 40% in the therapy group versus 90% in the arthroscopic repair group.This study provides further support for the surgical repair of shoulder instability. Non-operative treatment leads to recurrent instability in 39% to 94% of patients overall and in 87% of patients under 20 years old. Fortunately, arthroscopic techniques have significantly decreased the invasiveness of surgical treatment for shoulder instability.. With arthroscopy, 3 to 4 stab incisions each only 1 cm in length can be used to anatomically repair the labrum and improve the likelihood of return to high demand activity.

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