Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder News

Tennis in the Middle Ages

Tennis is one of the few sports that adults continue to play into the middle-aged years. This is true for both recreational and competitive play. However, shoulder problems are common in these groups.

The overhead and repeated motions of the arm can cause damage to the shoulder in older tennis players. The chances that a rotator cuff injury will occur go up with age. This is especially true in adults over 50 years.

Most middle-aged tennis players who hurt themselves are very interested in returning to the game. For this reason, doctors are measuring how long it takes for adult athletes to return to tennis. Doctors want to know what kind of surgery works best to get these players back in the game.

Surgery can be done with an open incision or by arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a way to do an operation without using a large cut to open up the joint. Instead, a small cut is made and a slender instrument with a tiny TV camera on the end is passed through the opening. By watching a video screen, the doctor sees what needs to be done and makes the needed repairs.

About 80 percent of middle-aged adults who have shoulder surgery can go back to tennis. This is true for both types of surgery (open or arthroplasty). However, they may not return to the same level of play as before the surgery. Some may still have shoulder pain. There is often a loss of power while playing tennis compared to the pre-injury status.

There are many reasons why the rest don't return to tennis. In some cases, the doctor may discourage tennis to prevent other injuries. Sometimes, the patient just isn't able to follow a strict exercise program in order to return to play. In all cases, proper rehab after surgery is very important to a good result and playing tennis again.


Bertrand Sonnery-Cottet, MD, et al. Rotator Cuff Tears in Middle-Aged Tennis Players: Results of Surgical Treatment. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. July/August 2002. Vol. 30. No. 4. Pp. 558-564.

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*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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