Non-surgical approach recommended for shoulder instability in young athletes


shoulder instability in young athletesAccording to recent research, young athletes suffering from shoulder instability would most benefit from a non-surgical approach. It also revealed a Non-Operative Instability Severity Score tool (NSIS), would help to identify patients at a higher risk, who could require other treatment options.

The research, conducted at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic of Carolinas, was presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. It assessed high-school students who had suffered anterior shoulder instability for the first time. The results are promising, highlighting that current controversial non-surgical techniques could be the best way forward.

Majority of participants could return to sport

The research followed a total of 57 adolescents who had been initially treated with a non-operative approach. It revealed an impressive 79% of them were able to return to sport. Not only that, but they didn’t need to miss any playing time or practice.

The researchers were also able to identify risk factors which could ultimately contribute towards the failure of non-operative techniques. One of the highest risks discovered was bone loss. It was revealed patients with bipolar bone loss had a 67% rate of failure.

NSIS tool helps identify higher-risk patients

As it stands, non-surgical approaches are controversial. It can be difficult for physicians to decide how to treat shoulder instability in young athletes. However, this recent research has identified the NSIS tool can help to establish the best course of treatment.

The NSIS ranges from 1-10. After analysing the NSIS results of the participants, it was discovered those with a score less than 7 had a 97% success rate. Those who scored more than 7 however, had a 59% success rate. So, the NSIS tool could help to identify those at a greater risk, allowing physicians to opt for an alternative treatment option.

The research also discovered other risk factors as well as bone loss, including age, gender, type of sport and the type of instability. Those who were over the age of 15 and female were shown to have a higher risk.

While the results of this latest study are promising, the researchers claim larger, more in-depth studies will be required to build upon the data collected.

The importance of seeking early treatment

Shoulder instability in young athletes is common, with many patients waiting too long to seek treatment. Pain is the most common symptom of shoulder instability, making it easy for patients to avoid seeking treatment as they mistakenly believe it’s temporary.

The trouble is, leaving shoulder instability untreated will cause the problem to become much worse. Unless treated quickly, non-surgical approaches wouldn’t necessarily be viable. Therefore, the earlier the problem is detected, the higher the chance it will be able to be treated non-surgically.

Overall, young athletes need to be aware of the risks of developing shoulder instability and the treatment options available. This latest research shows non-surgical treatments can prove effective at resolving the issue. However, further research does need to be required to determine just how effective a non-surgical approach is on a larger scale.