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Shoulder Injuries to Canoers and Kayakers

Authors: Philip Holland, Emma Torrance & Lennard Funk

Introduction: Paddlers use their shoulders in a unique way and place high demands on them. This makes the shoulder the most commonly injured joint amongst paddlers.

Aim: We report the largest case series of serious shoulder injuries amongst paddlers so far, to establish common mechanisms and patterns of injury. We also discuss how the management of these injuries.

Methods: Fifty-five shoulder injuries to professional and recreational paddlers were reviewed at a mean follow up time of 45.4 months from first consultation (range 25 - 72 months).  The patient cohort had a mean age of 36.22±15.22 and consisted of 56.36% males (n=31).  Patient data was analysed with regards to Constant, QuickDASH and VAS satisfaction scores both pre- and post-procedure.  

Results: The most common mechanism of injury was a capsize which accounted for 27% of injuries (n=15). The most common injury was a labral tear requiring repair, which accounted for 42% of injuries (n=23). A significant improvement in patient outcome scores was noted, with regards to QuickDASH (p=0.0162) and Constant shoulder scores (p=0.0078). Patients were able to return to a high level of paddling such as two slalom paddlers who returned to international competition; one of whom had bilateral surgery.

Conclusion: Paddlers most commonly injure their shoulder during a capsize or roll. The most common injury is a labral tear. Surgical repair results in good outcomes and return to sport.

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