Invited Clinical Commentary

Microinstability of the Shoulder in the Overhead Athlete

Author: Reinold M, Curtis AS

The overhead throwing athlete is an extremely challenging patient in sports medicine. The repetitive microtraumatic stresses and extreme ranges of motion observed within the athlete's shoulder joint complex during the throwing motion constantly place the athlete at risk for injury. While gross instability of the shoulder is possible, microinstability is seen far more frequently and is associated with a variety of different pathologies, including rotator cuff tendonitis, internal impingement, and labral lesions. Treatment of the overhead athlete requires the understanding of several principles based on the unique physical characteristics of this type of athlete and the demands placed upon the static stabilizing structures during the act of throwing. The purpose of this paper is to describe these principles and incorporate them into in a multi-phase progressive rehabilitation program designed to prevent injuries and rehabilitate the injured athlete, in both non-operative and post-operative cases.

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