Research presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting shows that college athletes experiencing in-season shoulder instability commonly return to play within one week of injury but develop recurrent instability in 63% of cases. The information may aid team physicians in providing the most optimal treatment plans for injured athletes. The researchers examined 45 athletes who suffered an anterior shoulder instability event and “found that 33 (73%) returned to play for at least part of the season after a median 5 days lost from competition,” according to lead author MAJ Jonathan F. Dickens, MD.
Dickens adds, “While a large portion of the athletes in this observational study return to mid-season sport, only 36% completed the season without subsequent instability.” Data from the study was collected over two academic years from three intercollegiate athletic institutions, and all patients underwent a standardized accelerated rehab program and were not subject to shoulder immobilization or surgery. A news release from AOSSM notes that the athletes were both male and female and participated in a variety of sports.
The AOSSM news release indicates that athletes with a partial dislocation of the shoulder were 5.3 times more likely to return in the same season compared to those with a complete dislocation. The most common reason for athletes not returning was the inability to reach sufficient shoulder function for athletic participation.
Dickens explains, “These early results should be valuable to physicians caring for the in-season athlete with shoulder instability, as we have not yet reached a consensus treatment approach on these injuries. More research is needed to determine the effect of multiple recurrent instability events on long-term outcomes and this study will hopefully be a first good step in understanding this relationship.”