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Successfully Playing Again After In-Season Shoulder Instability

Shoulder instability is a common occurrence with collision-based sports such as tackle football and rugby. Extensive available data suggests that repeat instability events for high school age athletes is exceptionally common, and for that reason orthopedic surgeons have become more likely to recommend surgery for first time shoulder instability.

However, recently published data shows that shoulder instability events can often be managed non-surgically with high rates of successful return in the same season. Furthermore one study indicates a very high rate of continued sport participation in the following season. This study shows that first time shoulder instability for athletes participating in collision-based sports can be managed without surgery in a much higher percentage of patients than we have previously believed.

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Surgery For Shoulder Dislocation: When Can I Play Again?

In today’s article I’d like to provide some general guidelines about return to play after surgery for a shoulder dislocation. Your individual situation will be unique, based upon multiple factors so for specific guidelines you’ll need to discuss this carefully with your orthopedic surgeon. It’s also important to note that surgeons will have considerable variability in their personal preferences for return to play.

Here are the targets I will typically aim for:

Noncontact overhead sports, full swing golf, racket sports: four months
Pitcher throwing from the mound: six months
Full contact and collision sports: 6 to 9 months

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Unusual Procedure Stabilizes The Shoulder

Chances are you’ve heard of a young athlete with an unstable shoulder. And chances are that you’ve never heard of a surgical procedure called a “remplissage”. This unusual French name indicates a surgical procedure in which soft tissue is tacked down to the back of the shoulder inside the joint. It’s becoming increasingly popular as part of shoulder stabilization surgery for the young athlete, and is well worth a discussion with the surgeon.

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