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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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Shoulder Instability Surgery- Reliable Results For Most Athletes

I wrote last week about improvements in ACL surgery over the last 25 years and this week I’d like to explore improved results from another commonly performed sports medicine surgery- stabilization surgery for the dislocating shoulder. The results here mirror those of ACL surgery in many ways.

Many young athletes dislocate a shoulder from trauma, typically a dive with the arm outstretched overhead. This can happen in any sport involving that kind of motion, and any contact sport.

Most surgeries were performed through a large “open” incision 25 years ago, but nowadays can be performed arthroscopically in most cases. For uncomplicated stabilization of shoulders that have had a small number of dislocations from trauma, we should expect 90% of shoulders to remain stable and satisfaction rates upwards of 80% out to about 5 years with current methods, for recreational athletes.

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