How Repetitive Sports Motion Fuels Shoulder Pain

Whether you compete in your sport daily or you’re a weekend warrior, any activity that involves repetitive shoulder movements leaves you increasingly vulnerable to shoulder injuries.

Whether your sport is tennis, baseball, swimming, football, or volleyball, among others, you may have already experienced at least one repetitive motion injury. 

How common are repetitive motion injuries? They’re among the most common types of injuries in the United States, and they comprise more than 50 percent of the sports injuries that physicians treat.

Our board-certified Orthopedic Surgeons,Pain Management Specialists and Regenerative Medicine at The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. treat many athletes whose sport contributes to the pain or other symptoms of a shoulder injury

What’s happening inside your shoulder, and what can you do about it? 

Your shoulder has the greatest range of motion of any joint in your body. Think about all of the ways you can move it — over your head, to the side, to the back, across your body — versus any other joint. That flexibility also makes it the least stable joint in your body. 

If you’re a football or baseball player, think about how many thousands of times you’ve thrown the ball. If you’re a golfer or tennis player, think about how many times you’ve swung that golf club or hit serves with your tennis racquet using your shoulder joint.

If you have a repetitive motion disorder, your soft tissues have developed tiny tears. Because you’re always using the shoulder, your body doesn’t have enough time to repair the tissue before you use it again. 

Your shoulder joint becomes inflamed, and you experience pain. You’ve overstressed the muscles, tendons, and nerves in the shoulder joint. Following are just some of the specific injuries caused by repetitive motion of your shoulder.  


Because of the repetitive motions of your shoulder when you play your sport, the muscles and tendons may start to rub against the bones. This friction causes inflammation and swelling in the rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons. 


It’s easy to develop a strain in your shoulder muscles. The more you use your shoulder, the more likely the tissues are to begin to tear.

Rotator cuff tears

Tendons around your shoulder connect the muscles in your shoulder, collectively forming the rotator cuff; which helps your shoulder rotate. Repetitive motion of the rotator cuff can tear the tendons or muscles when they’re stretched and overstressed. 


It’s easy for your shoulder tendons to become inflamed because the tendons are moving in a constricted space. Your rotator cuff tendons may be overextended. Friction may develop with a bone or ligament. Tendonitis is one of the most common shoulder injuries caused by playing sports. 


The bursa, a small pouch filled with fluid, lessens friction in your rotator cuff. If your tendons haven’t had time to rest, your bursa can become inflamed; moving your shoulder overhead causes pain. 

Shoulder instability

When shoulder ligaments are stretched beyond their capacity, you’re prone to a shoulder dislocation. When the ligaments and other soft tissue are torn or too loose, you can experience repeated dislocations.  

Treatment for repetitive motion injuries

As with other medical issues, the earlier you come in for treatment for a repetitive motion injury, the better your outcome will be. Treatment differs according to the specific diagnosis. 

We ask you to employ the RICE (rest, ice/heat, compression, elevation) protocol and can prescribe pain relievers. If you’re in a fair amount of pain, we can give you a cortisone shot. 

When indicated, we also use a form of regenerative medicine, platelet-rich plasma, to help you recover more quickly than with physical therapy alone. 

When conservative treatment doesn’t work, we can perform minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to correct the problem. As a sports medicine provider, we also counsel you about the best ways to prevent repetitive motion injuries in the future. 

Call The Center for Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, P.A. or book an appointment online today for all of your sports-related musculoskeletal health care needs.

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