Opinions vary on rotator cuff injuries

Baseball season has arrived!

It’s time to put away the 409-page Mitchell Report and any pharmacology texts fans may have been consulting. Box scores will now move to the top of the sports page.

Despite this good news, controversy still abounds.

This season, one issue surrounds the need for surgical repair of Curt Schilling’s ailing right shoulder. Rarely does the public see such divergent opinions among highly regarded sports medicine specialists as in this situation.

Dr. Thomas Gill, the Red Sox team physician, advocates non-surgical treatment with rehabilitation and return to pitching this season. Dr. Craig Morgan, who operated on Schilling’s shoulder in 1995 and 1999, recommends surgical repair with resuming action late in the season. A third opinion from Dr. David Altchek, Mets team physician, suggests surgery. The final decision has been no surgery and a possible return in several months.

Shoulder injuries are common in throwing sports and usually involve the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff refers to the system of tendons and muscles that support the most moveable joint in the body.

Common symptoms of injury are aching pain and weakness when attempting to raise the arm overhead. The principal issue when considering surgery is whether or not a tear is present or just inflammation. These conditions respectively require surgery with rehabilitation and rehabilitation alone.

The “Healthy Sports Spring Training Tour” is currently visiting the Connecticut Defenders at their preseason camp in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Stephen Scarangella of Willimantic is an orthopedist and Connecticut Defenders’ team physician. He reports that many pitchers respond well to surgery after rotator cuff tears. Although success depends on the extent of injury, tears are usually discovered early in pitchers and are small in size.

Anthony Reyes is the former Defenders’ athletic trainer and is now responsible for the San Francisco Giants’ Triple A Fresno club. His focus is on the prevention and rehabilitation of rotator cuff injuries. He allows a full year for recovery after rotator cuff surgery for a pitcher. This permits full healing and any changes the player must make in pitching mechanics.

The current controversy involving Curt Schilling’s injury will be played out over the next few months. When dealing with a shoulder injury, seek out multiple opinions from qualified specialists before deciding on a course of action. It’s what the pros do.

If you wish to learn more about shoulder injuries in sports, listen to the podcast or go to the Healthy Sports Blog at Backus Hospital.

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