In everyday life people rely heavily on their shoulders – often without giving it a second thought, despite the arduous work most of us have to put it through. If we have a shoulder injury we soon know about it. For some occupations and lifestyles though, any problems can quickly and seriously become more of an issue. Shoulder pain in cricketers is a common complaint seen by sports and spinal physio professionals from sportsmen and women taking to the field – purely because of the constant work the joint is under.
Shouldering the Responsibility
The repeated action of turning and whipping the shoulder that cricketers ask their bodies to perform that will unsurprisingly, take its toll, and not just for the bowlers in the squad. Everyone fields and it is the repeated throwing motion of the arm that can be the cause of shoulder pain in cricketers. It is caused simply by overuse and overexertion and tends to come from the rotator cuff.
Know your Rotator Cuff
The shoulder is among the most intricate parts of the human body and it is a complex joint. With a series of muscles comprising the rotator cuff, it sits within the shoulder girdle and essentially ensures the joint stays together.
The shoulder girdle is made up of three bones – upper arm (humerus), collar bone (clavicle) and scapula (shoulder blade). The rotator cuff is formed by four combining muscles – subscapularis, teres minor, supraspinatus and infraspinatus. These four muscles are attached to the scapula and the humerus to stabilize the joint and work constantly to allow the shoulder to rotate, move sideways and provide all round motion.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis and Impingement Syndrome
Because of the constant movement of the joint, which is heightened in sportsmen and women through constant use, repeated actions and over-exertion, a common complaint is rotator cuff tendonitis.
Rotator cuff tendonitis is a painful and troublesome complaint caused by the tendons attaching the rotator cuff muscles to the bones becoming aggravated, inflamed and swollen. This can lead to impingement syndrome with the affected tendons becoming trapped in the area beneath the protusion of bone at the top of the shoulder – known as the subacromial space.
Both rotator cuff tendonitis and impingement syndrome have similar symptoms – marked by localised pain to the shoulder joint which can most likely spread down to the arms and back. Swelling is very common around the affected areas while movement will become increasingly restricted as the tendons become more inflamed and the pain increases. Lifting the arms above the joint will increase the pain substantially.
Treating and preventing shoulder injuries
Any shoulder injury should first be treated with rest, alongside medication and ice to tackle the swelling and reduce pain, while assessment of the injury is carried out. A controlled sports and spinal physio treatment plan should be put in place which, alongside reducing the load on the joint, will gradually build movement and strength through exercising and stretching as the tendons heal.