Shoulder sports injuries in young athletes

Modern sport has seen a serious increase in the physicality of contact sports such as rugby, and hopsitals are therefore seeing a larger number of injuries involving the shoulder. Orthopaedic shoulder experts such as Mr R Andrew Sankey, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at The Lister Hospital advise that "recurrent injuries, such as dislocations, may lead to damage to the cartilage within the gleno-humeral joint leading to early onset arthritis.”

Mr Sankey explains in his plain English article that if the cartilage is affected due to the injury, more formal surgical measures may need to be adopted but the range of surgical treatments vary according to the nature and degree of damage and options to avoid joint replacement include the following:

  • Arthroscopic debridement – Removal of uneven areas through keyhole surgery, this is accompanied by drilling the defect to encourage healing with new cartilage (microfracture).
  • Autologous Chondrocyte Implantation – implanting cartilage cells grown in a laboratory into the defect. This involves one operation to harvest cartilage cells from a healthy area of the body such as the knee, and a second operation to implant the new cultured cells into the defect.
  • Arthroplasty – the replacement of defective joints which can just involve the defect itself and the whole joint.
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