Shoulder Injuries and Management in Premier League Professional Football Players

Authors: S Mills, C Pritchard, P Batty, L Funk

References: Presented at BESS 2011

The rate of lower limb injuries in professional football players has been well reported in the literature. Shoulder injuries although less common are often more serious than many other injuries and result in a longer time off play. This report is concerned with the incidence, investigations and management of shoulder injuries in English professional football players. 

The medical insurers to English Premiership Football teams provided summarised anonymous data for claims involving shoulder injuries over a three year period. This data only applied to injuries that were claimed on health insurance from professional football clubs in the UK. It excluded minor injuries that did not require investigations or interventional treatment. 

During the period of 2007 to 2010 there were 40,466 injury claims of which 3.3% were shoulder injuries. This is still a significant number of 1335 shoulder injuries; or an average of 445 serious shoulder injuries per year. The percentage of shoulder injuries (injuries per year / total shoulder injuries) increased from 35% in the 2006-2007 season to 85% in the 2008-2009 season. There was also a steady increase in the number of MRI scans and injections to the shoulder, however, no similar increase was observed in MR arthrograms. There has been an increase in the number of surgical interventions during the same time period. The vast majority of surgical procedures have been arthroscopic stabilisations (26%) and labral repairs (23%).

Shoulder injuries account for a small percentage of the total injuries observed. The incidence of these injuries including the number requiring surgical intervention has increased over the three year time period. Careful management is essential in minimizing the length of absence from play. 


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