Shoulder Dislocations In Sports

Did you know the males in their teens and 20s are most at risk of dislocating their shoulder?

The shoulder is one of the most mobile joints in the body, its joint’s ball-and-socket structure is held together by a network of muscles, tendons, and ligaments making it more prone to injury compared to any other joint. A shoulder dislocation occurs when the arm is violently forced out and away from the body. This leads to the damage of the bone and the network of ligaments surrounding it.

When dislocating the shoulder, the recovery time and future risk of injury will be determined by how much damage occurred to the surrounding area. Approximately 25% of shoulder dislocations have associated fractures and ligament tears that increase the chance of surgery and/or prolong recovery.

Shoulder dislocations are one of the most common injuries sustained in football, the high-speed impact of tackles, falls and collisions are the primary cause of the injury. According to research, 34.5% of dislocations occur at sporting locations such as football games. With 70% of dislocation occurring in males aged between 15 and 29, it is no surprise that we see so many dislocated shoulders in NRL. Nathan Cleary’s recent shoulder injuries that he sustained in Game II of State Of Origin is a testament to this finding.

Let’s Talk Recovery

There is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to a shoulder injury. The total time it can take to be fully recovered from a dislocated shoulder is anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks not including the damage to other ligaments and tendons. In the first few days and weeks of recovery, the arm will remain in a sling to rest, taking pressure off the shoulder while the pain settles.

At Progressive Sports and Spinal Physiotherapy, we will take an initial assessment of the shoulder and create a tailored rehabilitation plan to get you back to your pre-injury status. Once the immobilisation phase is complete, gentle hands-on physiotherapy is often the best starting point to ease shoulder pain and improve mobility. We also create a personalised rehabilitation program with gentle arm and shoulder exercises that will help reduce stiffness, relieve pain, and will start the process of rebuilding strength in the shoulder, this can include hydrotherapy.

Hydrotherapy is an effective recovery method when it comes to strengthening a shoulder and improving its range of motion. The buoyancy of the water reduces body weight and allows the muscles to relax. Due to the warmth of the water, joints and muscles slowly recover as it makes movement less painful. Hydrotherapy is considered the ultimate training and recovery tool, due to its low impact. It allows athletes to continue movement, recover faster and get back to the game they love, sooner.

NSW halfback Nathan Cleary during Origin II. (NRL)

Elin, is an alumni of St. Edward’s University and holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, furthered her academic journey by attaining a Doctor of Physiotherapy from Macquarie University in 2022.

Her passion for sports, particularly football (soccer), is evident in both her academic pursuits and personal endeavors. Specialising in the comprehensive well-being of athletes, Elin focuses on restoring them to peak performance while actively preventing future injuries.

Elin’s professional expertise is centered on musculoskeletal rehabilitation, with a specific emphasis on addressing and preventing knee injuries. Her approach integrates expert treatment with a commitment to educating and empowering patients, fostering their active involvement in enhancing their health and overall quality of life.

As an active participant in NPL football with SD Raiders, Elin brings firsthand experience and a profound understanding of the sport’s demands. Beyond the field, she extends her influence by contributing sports coverage over the weekends.

Christopher (Chris) Han graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy, and then completed the Doctor of Physiotherapy program at Macquarie University in 2018. Chris is currently undertaking his PhD at the University of Sydney and Institute for Musculoskeletal Health in the field of low back pain and is due to complete this in early 2024. 

Chris is currently an assistant Physiotherapist for the NRL Referees. Chris has previous experience as the head Physiotherapist at Panthers Premier League Netball and a number of elite sporting athletes in the private setting.

Through Chris’ experiences, he has a particular interest in all areas of the body and musculoskeletal physiotherapy, sports, vestibular rehabilitation, and Men’s Health (pre and post prostate surgery).

Suzanne graduated from Western Sydney University with a Bachelor of Health Science (Sports and Exercise Science) in 2015. She then went on to continue her studies at Macquarie University graduating from the Doctor of Physiotherapy post-graduate degree in June 2019.

Since graduating, Suzanne has worked in the local Penrith area in both private practice and Sports Physiotherapy. Suzanne has worked with sporting teams including Penrith District Netball Association, Mt Druitt Rangers (NPL), Penrith Valley Figure Skating Club, and local dance and cheer schools. 

Suzanne has a particular interest in working with artistic athletes including cheerleaders and dancers. She has a professional background in both cheer and dance and has previously worked as both a cheer coach and dance teacher. Suzanne’s previous experiences are an invaluable resource to her as a physiotherapist, as she has a thorough understanding of the level of physical fitness and skill acquisition that these athletes must have in order to be successful on stage and in competition.

Suzanne’s other areas of clinical interest reside in lower limb musculoskeletal injuries, spinal pathologies and women’s health.

Nathanial graduated as a physiotherapist in 2012 which saw him work in private practice and hospital settings gaining experience in all areas of physiotherapy including hand therapy, splinting/casting, pre/post-operative care, Men’s Health and general musculoskeletal, occupational and sports physiotherapy. Since then he has gone on to complete further studies in physiotherapy enabling him to be the only dual titled Musculoskeletal, Sports and Exercise Physiotherapist in Penrith.

Nathanial has a strong background in sports physiotherapy achieving accreditation with NSWIS as a service provider and working with many elite sports teams.

Nathanial has a particular interest in working with elite athletes, complex cases and in particular assessment and management of knee, hip and shoulder pain.

Andrea graduated from the Australian Catholic University completing her Bachelor of Exercise and Sports Science in 2018 and Master’s of Clinical Exercise Physiology in 2020. After graduating she attained accreditation with ESSA as an Exercise Physiologist.

During her studies she gained clinical experience in both hospital and private practice settings, in cardiac rehabilitation, neurological conditions, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.

Since working at Progressive, Andrea has a specialist interest in treating musculoskeletal injuries, helping people in the mid-late stage of rehab to get them to return to sport or work. As well as helping people manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.