FRIDAY, Jan. 24, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Football players and
wrestlers are the high school athletes most prone to shoulder
injuries, and they're more likely to injure their shoulders in
competition than in practice, a new study shows.
The research, published in the February issue of
Pediatrics, is thought to be the most comprehensive look at
shoulder injuries to date in teen athletes.
Researchers say the study should help coaches and trainers
identify settings where problems are most likely to occur. That
way, they can begin to take steps to prevent serious shoulder
injuries, which can have lasting and, in rare cases, career-ending
For the study, researchers used a national database to tally
shoulder injuries to athletes participating in nine high school
sports over seven seasons, from 2005 through 2012. Sports surveyed
for the study included boys' football, wrestling and baseball;
girls' volleyball and softball; and boys' and girls' soccer and
The good news is that shoulder injuries are relatively rare,
although the shoulder is still the one of the most commonly injured
During those years, there were about 2,800 reports of shoulder
injuries sustained during more than 13 million times players took
to the field for competition or practice. That's an overall rate of
just over two injuries for every 10,000 athletic exposures, or more
than 820,000 injuries nationwide.
But some players were more vulnerable than others.
Football players made up about half the total number of injuries
seen in the study. Wrestlers were the second most frequently
wounded group, accounting for about 15 percent of the total.
Players in all sports were more likely to damage their shoulders
in competition, rather than practice. And football players were
about six times more likely to hurt their shoulders during a
Sprains and strains were the most commonly reported injuries,
followed by dislocations and bruises. Fractures accounted for about
10 percent of all injuries.
Boys were more likely to hurt their shoulders than girls,
because they're more likely to play contact sports. In sports
dominated by overuse injuries like basketball, baseball and
softball, boys and girls had more equal chances of ending up with
their arms in a sling.
"For the most part, these injuries are happening in male-dominated sports whose sole job is to make contact with other players, every single play," said study author Dr. T. Walker Robinson, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
Robinson said competition is often the setting for these
injuries because it's where players are really pushing themselves
and testing their limits.
An expert who was not involved in the research praised the study
for giving doctors and parents a better idea of which competitors
are most vulnerable.
"Studies like this really help to give numbers. You need a baseline before you can see if what you're doing to prevent injuries or treat injuries is working," said Dr. Joshua Dines, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.
"There's a lot of focus now on different training methods, more functional workouts," Dines said. "We theoretically know why these injuries occur, so then it's important to say, is that knowledge translating to decreasing these injuries occurring? We can't do that without these kinds of studies."
For more about common shoulder injuries, visit the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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