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Physical Therapy for athletes in pain
Amateur or professional athletes who play tennis or baseball often need the help of physical therapists because of shoulder injuries. Often the shoulder injury is characterized by pain and weakness in the shoulder girdle, difficulty lifting the arm out to the side, and difficulty sleeping on that shoulder.
Continuing to use the arm may present more pain and cause the patient to react by starting to hunch his/her shoulders forward as if in a fetal position. This can aggravate the pain and a bad cycle can begin if the shoulder isn't properly treated by a physical therapist.
Injections by orthopedists and over the counter medications can decrease the pain but unless the mechanics of the entire shoulder girdle is assessed, pain and/or limitation of the joint may return.
A physical therapist can assess the strength, posture and motion of the shoulder. He or she will come up with an individual treatment plan that will strengthen the shoulder girdle and decrease the pain. The physical therapist will also evaluate the athlete's core muscles. Their strength is integral to the overall rehab of the shoulder as well. If the core muscles are strong, the over extension, over rotation of the shoulder would be eliminated because the force of the swing would be coming from the core.
Nancy Whelan is the owner of the West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center. She has been a physical therapist for over 30 years.