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Shoulder subluxations and their treatment L ast year I wrote an article about reducing the risk of wrestling injuries. Now that we are entrenched in the wrestling season this year I thought it appropriate to follow-up with an article focusing on a common wrestling injury we encounter in our sports medicine centers — the shoulder subluxation. Shoulder subluxations, along with other shoulder injuries, are among the most frequently seen high school wrestling injuries. They represent a combined 18.6% of all high school wrestling injuries. A shoulder subluxation occurs when the upper arm bone completely separates from the shoulder blade’s “socket” but spontaneously reduces. This usually occurs in wrestling during takedowns. As a review, the takedown position is among the most common wrestlingrelated activities leading to injury. From a defensive position, the wrestling athlete can experience large forces through the shoulder when being taken down to the mat. Clinically, the wrestling athlete will usually present with some degree of muscle guarding around the shoulder, pain and possibly apprehension to movement of the shoulder. Rehabilitation of a shoulder subluxation can be divided into four phases:

ties, basic shoulder blade muscle exercises

Phase II

Progressive shoulder strengthening exercises, dynamic stability exercises of the shoulder and shoulder blade, advanced shoulder proprioception drills

Health Watch David Arakawa

Phase I Pain-free motions of the shoulder, shoulder isometric exercises, basic shoulder position sense or proprioception activi-

Phase III Initiate upper body plyometric training drills, normal weightlifting activities, light sport-specific exercises

Phase IV (Return to Sport) Continue all above exercises in Phase III and perform functional testing for the upper body To summarize, a shoulder subluxation is a common injury seen in high school wrestling. However, if recognized and treated efficiently, it will not derail the hard working and dedicated high school wrestler from the ultimate prize — the state championship. ✪ David Arakawa is a senior physical therapist for the staff of Sports Medicine For Young Athletes, a division of Children’s Hospital Oakland with a facility also in Walnut Creek. If you have questions or comments regarding the “Health Watch” column, write the Sports Medicine For Young Athletes staff at

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December 20, 2012



BA Issue 58, Dec. 20, 2012  
BA Issue 58, Dec. 20, 2012  

Bay Area Issue 58, December 20, 2012