Shoulder injuries can occur in athletes playing all kinds of sports and can happen at any age. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, surgery may be recommended to avoid long-term damage and preserve peak athletic performance, particularly for younger athletes. Here are some common reasons athletes may need shoulder surgery.

When Should an Athlete Undergo Shoulder Surgery?

1. Injured Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of tendons and muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, allowing for effective movement of the arm and shoulder. A rotator cuff injury can cause a dull ache in the shoulder, which may worsen at night, and a limited range of motion. These injuries are especially common in sports requiring overhead motion, such as tennis and baseball. Conservative treatments for rotator cuff injuries include steroid injections and physical therapy. However, if these prove unsuccessful, surgery, such as a tendon repair procedure, may be needed to minimize pain and restore range of motion.

2. Torn Labrum

shoulder surgery

The labrum is a thick band of cartilage found in the shoulder. A labrum tear most commonly occurs due to excessive force being placed on the shoulder—for example, because an athlete falls on their outstretched arm. Athletes taking part in high-impact sports like soccer, football, and hockey are especially prone to this injury. Symptoms can include instability of the shoulder joint as well as popping or clicking sounds. A serious labrum tear will require surgery to fix.

3. Dislocated Shoulder

The shoulder is a joint that sits securely in a socket. When it pops out of that socket, it has become dislocated. This causes severe instability in the arm and can also damage surrounding ligaments, tendons, and muscles, causing tears. Shoulder dislocation is almost always caused by a high-impact trauma to the shoulder. The joint itself may be popped back in place manually. However, shoulder surgery may be needed to repair surrounding damage to soft tissues or bones.


If you think you may benefit from shoulder surgery, consult Peter A. Matsuura, M.D. of Hilo, HI. A fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Matsuura has over 20 years of experience. He understands the importance athletes place on maintaining their performance ability and has the expertise to advise you on what procedures you may benefit from. Learn more about the doctor's credentials online, and call (808) 969-3331 to schedule your personal consultation.