Arm and shoulder injuries are unfortunately quite common in the athletic population. Different groups of athletes may be at higher risk to different types of injuries, but all athletes are susceptible to upper body injury. Proper arm and shoulder injury treatment from a trusted physical therapist is crucial to guarantee the best outcomes in recovery from these injuries.
“Overhead” athletes such as baseball players, volleyball players, racquet sport athletes, and swimmers often experience overuse shoulder injuries such as rotator cuff related shoulder pain (or shoulder impingement syndrome) and SLAP/labral tears.
Athletes that participate in sports such as football, lacrosse, hockey, and gymnastics often experience more acute traumatic injuries to the shoulder such as shoulder dislocations, AC joint sprains (or separated shoulder), and SLAP/labral tears.
Athletes that participate in racquet sports, golf, and baseball experience both overuse and acute traumatic injuries to the arm/elbow such as flexor/pronator pain and distal biceps pain/tendinopathy, golfers elbow, tennis elbow, or UCL sprains/tears.
Common Sports Arm Injuries
UCL injuries are defined by overstretching or tearing of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL), a ligament on the inside of the elbow that provides stability to the elbow joint. This injury usually occurs from high-speed throwing with less-than-ideal throwing mechanics. UCL reconstruction (also known as Tommy John surgery) is recommended for a complete UCL tear for throwers, followed by 7-12 months of rehabilitation.
Flexor/Pronator Pain & Distal Biceps Tendinopathy
Elbow pain on the front of the arm is extremely common in throwing athletes. This injury is usually experienced by pitchers that are throwing too much, too often, or that have less than ideal throwing mechanics.
Golfer’s Elbow (Medial Epicondylitis)
This injury is described as irritation of the forearm flexor muscles and tendons. While common in golfers, it is also common in other populations. People with golfer’s elbow experience pain on the inside of the elbow with activities such as swinging a golf club (trailing arm), repetitive gripping, or repetitive throwing.
Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis)
People with tennis elbow experience irritation of the forearm extensor muscles and tendons. While common in racquet sport athletes, it is also experienced in many other populations. People with tennis elbow experience pain on the outside of the elbow with a backhand-type motion or repetitive, forceful gripping.
Common Sports Shoulder Injuries
AC Joint Sprain or Shoulder Separation
This injury is described as a tearing or stretching of one or more of the ligaments that provides stability to the acromioclavicular joint (where the shoulder blade meets the collar bone). Management of this injury may consist of physical therapy, wearing a sling for a few days to a couple of weeks, and/or surgery depending on the type and severity of the sprain.
Shoulder dislocations usually occur from trauma such as falling on an outstretched hand or contact to the arm when it is in a vulnerable position. Approximately 97% of shoulder dislocations are in the forward direction.
After the dislocation is reduced, physical therapy is recommended for treatment to regain function. If the patient continues to experience recurrent instability of the joint, surgery may be recommended.
Rotator Cuff Related Shoulder Pain or Shoulder Impingement Syndrome
This injury is described as shoulder pain felt when reaching the arm overhead, behind the head, or behind the back. Physical therapy is recommended for the management of rotator cuff related shoulder pain.
SLAP tear (Labral Tear)
A Superior Labrum from Anterior to Posterior (SLAP) tear may occur from overuse such as repetitive throwing, or from acute trauma such as falling on an outstretched hand.
The labrum is a ring of cartilage that provides stability to the shoulder joint. Physical therapy – and possibly surgery depending on the severity of the injury – will be recommended for the management of your SLAP tear.
What Patients Are Saying
Shawn is amazing! He is very patient with my impatient teenager! I love how specific he is and I love how he takes video clips of the exercises she is supposed to do at home. Highly recommend!
As an avid athlete, I've had my share of injuries and Shawn is the best physical therapist I've worked with. He's worked most recently on my achilles after it flared up with tendinitis. Shawn is very attentive and has a way of tweaking every exercise so it isolates the exact right muscle/joint to produce maximum results. I'm also a big fan of dry needling with stim and Shawn is one of the only PTs in the area that does it. If you're an athlete recovering from an injury or just need periodic maintenance, I would highly recommend Shawn and his team.
Shawn and the staff at Herlong PT are awesome to work with and have helped me work through knee pain I’ve dealt with for years. After working with them this summer my knee pain has gotten significantly better and Shawn has helped me to correct a lot of small details in my training I wouldn’t have addressed on my own. As a D1 athlete who has been to multiple PTs I highly recommend!
I came to Herlong Sports for my back and I can proudly say that today I experience no pain! They are amazing physical therapists who pay close attention to their clients and put them first. Not only that but they are extremely personable and kind. They also helped both my sister and brother with their sports injuries and both are back and better today. Go here!
Herlong Sports Physical Therapy is great. Scheduling is really easy and my physical therapist was really knowledgeable and helpful. Overall everybody at the facility is really kind and I had a great experience. I would definitely recommend this place
I have been to a few different physical therapy places in the past and just never got the attention that Herlong has given to me. From my first visit, I knew that I was in good hands. Herlong takes the time to listen to my concerns and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. I have only the highest praise for Herlong and would highly recommend them and their 1-on-1 approach
This is by far the best physical therapy you can choose. All the employees are extremely nice and friendly, and always welcome you with a smile. It’d be a HUGE mistake not to choose Herlong Sports Physical Therapy.
Nothing but great things to say about the staff and environment. I went to Herlong Sports prior to and after my ACL surgery and have been walked through every step of the way for my knee rehab. The patience, empathy, and professionalism reflects in each patient they treat. I truly appreciate the attention to detail that the team demonstrates. I would definitely recommend seeing the staff here to get you feeling better
The absolute best for physical therapy! Shawn and his staff are extremely knowledgeable, positive, and personal. They not only treat the ailment, but educate their patients on how it happened and how to prevent future injuries. They’re great with kids too! Thank you Shawn and staff!
Arm & Shoulder Injury Treatment
If you are experiencing shoulder or arm pain, weakness, or loss of function, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Herlong Sports Physical Therapy!
Maryland is a direct access state, which means that you do not need a referral to see a physical therapist.
Appointments at HSPT are one-on-one, 45-minute sessions with a licensed Doctor of Physical Therapy who will develop an individualized program specific to you based on the best research evidence and your unique values, preferences, and circumstances.
Session frequency can range anywhere from one session every other week to three or more sessions per week, depending on the injury.