Question:I'm a college-level football player with a dislocated (and reduced) shoulder. My ability to stay in school depends on a football scholarship. I can't afford to sit out the rest of the season. If I do everything the physical therapist tells me, how soon can I expect to get back out on the field?
Return to play depends on several things. Was this the first time you dislocated the shoulder? Or is this a recurrence of a previous dislocation? There is a high redislocation rate reported for young adults. Did you have an MRI to show how much and what kind of soft tissue structures (if any) were damaged?
There has been a recent study to see how quickly young athletes can return to their sport without having surgery. Shoulder instability in 30 athletes was treated with early movement, physical therapy, and bracing. Ninety percent of the athletes were able to return to their former position and play fully without surgery. The average time off the field was 10 days. The range was from zero to 30.
More than half the players finished the season and then had the surgery. The study showed no long-term problems from following this delayed treatment schedule.Daniel D. Buss, MD, et al. Nonoperative Management for In-Season Athletes With Anterior Shoulder Instability. In The American Journal of Sports Medicine. August/September 2004. Vol. 32. No. 6. Pp. 1430-1433.
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