The care of overhead athletes presents a challenge to clinicians. The injury manifestations may be subtle and the diagnosis often elusive. The violent stresses imposed upon the shoulder during the act of overhead throwing will, in time, exact their toll on both the labrum and rotator cuff if certain maladaptive patterns are not recognized and treated appropriately. Perhaps the role of “preventative strategies” is more meaningful in overhead athletes than in any other sports-related cohort. A profound understanding of shoulder anatomy, biomechanics, and response to overuse is necessary to appreciate and implement prevention strategies. Similarly, subtle examination findings may alert the clinician to an impending “shoulder at risk.”
The surgical treatment of labral and cuff injury must be addressed with great reverence as any trivial loss of motion will simply not be tolerated by a higher-level thrower. Finally, rehabilitation strategies, when implemented in a timely manner, will “rescue” many shoulders from serious injury and preserve appropriate surgical restoration.
We have assembled experts in the treatment of overhead athletes to elaborate on the diagnosis and treatment of afflictions in them. Special emphasis has been placed on pathomechanics and kinetic chain abnormalities that may lead to shoulder dysfunction.
It is our sincere hope that the reader will benefit from the experience of our authors and embark on successful treatment AND prevention of shoulder injuries in overhead athletes.