The Thrower's Shoulder


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Abstract

Overhead athletes subject their shoulders to extreme repetitive torque, compression, distraction, and translation stresses, resulting in adaptive changes of the soft tissues and osseous structures within and around the glenohumeral joint. These anatomic adaptations result in biomechanical enhancements, which improve performance. Understanding the difference between necessary and adaptive changes and pathologic findings is critical when making treatment decisions. Injuries to the shoulder of the overhead athlete can be generally classified into three groups: internal impingement, internal impingement with acquired secondary anterior instability, and primary anterior or multidirectional instability. Although advances in surgical techniques have allowed surgeons to address the pathology in these groups, merely attempting to restore the shoulder to so-called normal can adversely alter adaptive changes that allow high levels of performance.

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