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Getting Athletes Back In The Game Sooner Following Shoulder Injuries

"The shoulder is similar to a hip in the sense that it's a ball and socket joint, but the shoulder is very shallow making it potentially unstable and prone to overuse injuries," said Terry. "SLAP tears can also result from a fall on an outstretched arm or lifting a heavy object. Patients who have this type of labrum tear will experience pain like Jade had, as well as other symptoms including decreased range of motion, popping and clicking in the joint and a feeling of instability in the shoulder."

While conservative treatment such as rest, icing, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy may be the first approach to managing a SLAP tear, many patients are unable to return to full athletic capability without surgery. Biceps tenodesis is an outpatient arthroscopic procedure during which the surgeon approaches the tear through two small incisions to cut the normal attachment of the biceps tendon then reattaches it to a position that is out of the way of the shoulder joint, limiting the distracting force that the biceps places on the labrum.

"By removing tension on the injured area, this procedure alleviates pain and discomfort and allows the restoration of mobility and strength in the arm," Terry explained. "As more surgeons become trained in this technique, it will likely eclipse other surgical options to fix these types of shoulder injuries in many cases. Not only are these patients rehabbing quicker, but they are also returning to their pre-injury level of performance."       

The procedure, while often performed as part of a larger shoulder surgery such as rotator cuff or SLAP repair, is becoming more common as the primary means for treating this type of injury. Patients who have biceps tenodesis go home the same day and do not require a hospital stay.

Dismore arrived at Northwestern Memorial for surgery in the morning and was home recovering by the afternoon. "Immediately after surgery the pain wasn't too bad and within four weeks I was out of the shoulder sling and starting physical therapy," said Dismore. "In eight weeks, I was back to doing normal activities. I started running again just about 10 weeks after surgery."

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