Three Common Shoulder Sports Injuries

11 November 2019

As the body’s most mobile joint, the shoulder is injury-prone, particularly for athletes and participants in sport. Contact sports and the repetitive overhead movements of sports like swimming or tennis increase the risks.

Three common sports shoulder injuries are:


SLAP stands for “Superior Labrum, Anterior to Posterior”. The labrum is a ring of cartilage around the shoulder socket. Repetitive overhead motions may tear that cartilage.

Signs of a SLAP tear include reduced athletic performance or range of motion and localised pain, triggered by specific actions such as lifting objects overhead, throwing, or generalised joint pain.

Initial treatment is generally non-surgical and may include ice, anti-inflammatory medication and exercises to strengthen the shoulder and restore function. If your symptoms persist, you may require arthroscopic surgery.

Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability occurs when ligaments, muscles, and tendons no longer secure the shoulder joint. This can result in a dislocated shoulder, which occurs when the top part of your upper arm bone pops out of the shoulder socket. This usually tears part of the labrum and may even cause small fractures of the glenoid (shoulder socket).

Signs of a dislocated shoulder include severe and sudden pain, arm weakness, a lack of movement and possibly swelling and bruising.

A dislocated shoulder needs immediate attention. Your doctor will move the shoulder back into place. After this, early treatment is similar to that for a SLAP Tear. You may also need to wear a sling for a period of time. These treatments are often effective, but surgery may be recommended to reduce the risk of recurrence, depending on the degree of damage to the labrum or the presence of a fracture.

Rotator Cuff Tear

The rotator cuff is the group of muscles attaching the upper arm bone to the shoulder blade. It is essential to almost all shoulder movements. A rotator cuff tear may occur through injury or appear gradually over time.

Signs of a potential tear include weakness and stiffness of the joint and pain, particularly with overhead arm movements. You may also experience pain and stiffness at night, especially if you sleep on the affected shoulder.

Once again, early treatment relies on the non-invasive techniques already discussed in this article. Your doctor may also recommend localised cortisone injections. Should these treatments not prove effective, surgery may be required.


For more detailed information on shoulder injuries we recommend contacting Mr Soong Chua for an initial consultation.

Photo by Scott Webb from Pexels

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