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Not Dead Yet: Shoulder Instability Or “Dead Arm Syndrome”

The repetitive motion of over-arm throwing that baseball pitchers consistently endure can put a significant amount of strain on an athlete’s shoulder. Because the shoulder joints are relatively “loose” to begin with, it’s not hard to overuse or injure them.shoulder-instability-matthew-boes

What Is Dead Arm Syndrome?

Often, shoulder instability can lead to lessened ability to use the arm, weakness or temporary numbness known as “dead arm.” The sufferer may feel as though his or her arm is hanging from the body as deadweight. Although, this is usually a momentary sensation that quickly passes, it is a key symptom of shoulder instability. Other symptoms include:

  • Painful clicking or popping in the shoulder

  • Pain with specific activities, such as throwing a ball

  • Numbness or tingling may be felt radiating from the shoulder into the hand

While certain types of activities (baseball, tennis, swimming) can cause instability in the shoulder, some patients may simply develop this condition due to natural “loose jointedness” in their shoulder. In these patients, some type of activity may aggravate the shoulder and lead to the onset of pain and dysfunction.

Treating Shoulder Instability

The hallmark of treatment for this condition is rehabilitation. Focused exercises, supervised by a physical therapist, and then conducted mostly at home can help strengthen the shoulder muscles and alleviate symptoms.  Rarely, patients require surgery to overcome this condition. Surgery involves tightening the ligaments around the shoulder to regain normal function.

Call orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Matthew T. Boes today and schedule an appointment.

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