Shoulder injuries are common in children and adolescents, particularly in children who are very active and participate in organized sports involving overhead activity such as baseball, volleyball, and swimming.
Because we understand how an outstretched shoulder injury can also cause injury to the growth plates in a child, we have successful recoveries after shoulder procedures as opposed to those seen by an adult orthopedic physician who may not factor in growth plates.
Injuries that occur as a result of one particularly traumatic episode are referred to as acute injuries. In skeletally immature children, acute injuries can occur in the area of growth in the bone, otherwise known as the growth plate. For example, growth plate fractures in the shoulder can occur when a child or adolescent falls on the shoulder or the outstretched hand. These fractures commonly involve the upper part of the humerus bone or the clavicle. The growth plate is more commonly injured in children because the growing cartilage/bone often is the weakest structure compared to the surrounding shoulder ligaments. Most growth plate fractures heal without complications, but these injuries often require special attention to avoid future problems with growth.
That is why it is critical to see a pediatric orthopedic physician, like those at Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, who understands and factors in growth plates when contemplating the right diagnosis and treatment. Other examples of acute injuries to the shoulder include a shoulder dislocation or a shoulder separation (AC Sprain). Either of these two injuries can occur with a blow to the shoulder or with a fall on the outstretched arm. Shoulder dislocations can result in a cartilage tear in the shoulder, otherwise known as a labral tear.
Injuries that occur over time because of repetitive activity are known as overuse injuries. For example, chronic shoulder pain that occurs with throwing in baseball players may be related to overuse and inflammation around the growth plate in the upper part of the humerus bone. This injury is referred to as Little League Shoulder or proximal humeral epiphysiolysis.
Overuse injuries can also occur in the soft tissues of the shoulder (tendons, ligaments, capsule, etc.) instead of on the growth plate. Depending on the symptoms, this injury may be referred to as rotator cuff tendinitis or impingement. Some young athletes suffer from recurrent shoulder instability that interferes with their ability to continue with their sport.
Shoulder Pain Symptoms
Pain and swelling present after an acute trauma indicate a musculoskeletal injury. The pain may be generalized to the area or be specific to one particular location. Severe pain, numbness, tingling, and restriction of motion may indicate a more serious injury. Chronic (or overuse) injury may present more gradually, with more vague complaints of pain that are made worse with overhead activity. Overhead athletes may notice a decline in their performance due to the pain.
Shorter Recovery Times
“Hospital stays for my patients after surgery are shorter than most. I prepare the child for the surgery in advance. The preparation helps the children recover quicker after surgery, shortening their hospital stay. This may be a win-win for the children and their families.” Shyam Kishan, MD
Consulting a pediatric orthopedic specialist is warranted when pain, swelling, and trouble using the arm persist despite home treatment such as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). If your child is unable to return to activities or sports, or if he has joint swelling, locking or instability, seeking timely professional assistance is essential. Consulting a pediatric orthopedic professional is especially important if your injured child is still growing. Injuries that occur near the growth plate can be challenging to recognize and appropriate treatment is necessary to ensure adequate management and successful healing.
Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists’ board-certified physicians specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of injuries that affect school-age athletes. When surgery is necessary, our pediatric orthopedic physicians will discuss specialized, age-appropriate, and minimally invasive surgical options.
- Surgical and non-surgical treatment of musculoskeletal injuries/sports injuries
- Full-spectrum orthopedic care (complex fractures, ligament and cartilage trauma/injury, limb deformity, hand/upper extremity conditions, spine, and hip disease/conditions)
- State-of-the-art EOS low radiation X-ray (new imaging technology with low-dose radiation and enhanced clinical imaging)
Our physicians at Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists have experience and expertise in the treatment of shoulder injuries. Our board-certified physicians specialize in the treatment of children and adolescents and can give your child the care and attention they deserve.
Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.
Comprehensive services for children from birth through adolescence at three
convenient locations: Arlington, Dallas, Frisco and McKinney.