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Retrospective analysis of shoulder injuries in Premier League professional football players

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

References: Presented at ISSSMC Conference, Newcastle, 18-20 August 2011. Submitted for publication Oct 2012

Background: Shoulder injuries in football are less common than lower limb injuries, but are often more serious than many other injuries and result in a longer time off play. No study has looked at the types of injuries and their interventions in professional footballers thus far.

Design: Retrospective analysis of shoulder injuries across four consecutive seasons.

Patients: Data were obtained for injuries that were claimed on health insurance from professional football clubs in the United Kingdom. It excluded minor injuries that did not require investigations or interventional treatment.

Main Outcome Measurements: Analysis, diagnosis and treatment of shoulder injuries.

Results: There were 40,466 injury claims of which 3.3% were shoulder injuries (1335). This was equivalent to an average of 334 serious shoulder injuries per season. The number of shoulder injuries increased from 27 in the 2006-2007 season to 109 in the 2009-2010 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 was an increase in the number of surgical interventions during the same time period. The vast majority of surgical procedures were arthroscopic stabilisations (26%) and labral repairs (23%).

Conclusions: The number of significant shoulder injuries and upper limb surgical procedures have increased in professional football. The majority of upper limb surgery has been labral and stabilisation operations. Further investigation is required to examine the causes for these trends and possible injury reduction.


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