Q&A with Dr. Frank Cordasco about shoulder injuries

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Rudy Gay suffered a shoulder injury Thursday night in Miami and did not return to the game. We were told he suffered a strained left shoulder as the initial diagnosis.

*UPDATE: Rudy Gay had an MRI on Friday for a strained left shoulder and is listed as DAY-TO-DAY for Saturday’s matinee matchup against the Orlando Magic.

Therefore, I decided to dig a little bit deeper into the repercussions of basketball players that have suffered from shoulder injuries. This of course is a Q&A with Dr. Frank Cordasco, (Sports Medicine Surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery) about the generalization of players who have had shoulder injuries.

It is also important to note that Gay suffered season-ending surgery on the same shoulder in 2011.

Q&A with Dr. Frank Cordasco

LB: What are the long-term implications of shoulder injuries with basketball players?

FC: The first step is to determine the complete diagnosis before an appropriate treatment plan (with the attendant short and long term implications) can be determined. The Shoulder Injury spectrum ranges from minor soft tissue contusions, ligament sprains and muscle strains to more significant shoulder subluxations/dislocations/separations, tendon tears and fractures. History, Physical Exam and Radiographs often necessary and more Advance Imaging in the form of CT Scans and MRI may be necessary in more significant injuries.

A: Soft Tissue Contusions, Minor Sprains and Strains: Short-term – self-Limiting, few days to a week or two, no Long-Term Implications.

B: Shoulder (Glenohumeral Joint – Ball and Socket) Subluxations/Dislocations: This type of injury is one of the more common injuries sustained by athletes involved in collision sports like basketball. These are instability injuries where the major joint either subluxates (partially slips out) or dislocates (completely slips out and may require a reduction maneuver (put back in place by physician). These injuries result in tearing of the ligament complex, which includes the glenoid labrum and capsule. An MRI is necessary to determine the degree of injury (Rudy Gay reportedly was scheduled to have an MRI today). These injuries may require surgery either season-ending or if less significant, at the end of the season. Long-term implications may result in a slightly increased incidence of early arthritis with or without surgery.

C: Shoulder Separations involve the Acromioclavicular joint (AC Joint) and are graded based upon x-ray from I-VI. Grades I and II usually do well and the athlete is back on the court within a week or two. Grade III AC Separations are often managed non-operatively initially and assuming the athlete can perform at his prior level are not treated surgically. Grades IV-VI require surgery. Long-term the higher grade injuries may recur.

D: Tendon Tears: Involve the Rotator Cuff or Biceps Tendon and depending upon the degree of injury may be treated with non-operatively and (athlete back within 2-3 weeks) or surgically (season-ending).

E: Fractures: Clavicle or Humerus – often require surgery.

LB: What are some of the treatments/recovery of shoulder injuries players can take or do to improve their overall well being to continue to play at a high level?

FC: Treatments were listed as part of #1. Prevention is best obtained by appropriate in-season and off-season strength and conditioning.

All we can do now is wait for the official word but as we can see, shoulder injuries can be very lingering in the long-term. Cowbell Kingdom will keep you updated.

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