Skip to main content

Shoulder Pain Recovery: How Soon Can I Play Sports?

Shoulder Pain Recovery: How Soon Can I Play Sports?

If you’re an injured athlete, you have one question on your mind: When can I play again? 

We get it. 

Dr. Bryan King and Dr. Jeffrey Cuomo at Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, work with athletes daily to treat their injuries and get them back in the lineup, but the answer to your question is neither simple nor universal. 

We can assure you of this, however: Our sports medicine and orthopedic specialists prioritize your return to the game as much as you do, and we use the most advanced techniques and technology to ensure you go back fully healed and ready to play. 

Common shoulder injuries among athletes

The shoulder comes into play at different degrees of intensity, depending on your sport. Some shoulder problems are almost synonymous with certain sports because the specific movements that are required result in sport-specific injuries — swimmer’s shoulder, rugby shoulder, and thrower’s shoulder, to name a few.

Medically speaking, the most common sports-related shoulder injuries are:

We’re equipped to diagnose and treat all types of shoulder injuries and return you to peak performance as soon as possible. From conservative measures to surgical repairs, Dr. King and Dr. Cuomo design a treatment and rehabilitation plan with your specific needs in mind.

How to know your shoulder is ready to play again

It might sound subjective when we say you can return to sports “when your shoulder is ready,” but it’s not just a guess — we have a set of research-based criteria that guide us (and you) so you don’t get back in the game too early. 

After the initial stages of healing, your shoulder goes through three measurable stages of post-injury readiness.

Stage 1: High-performance training

The first stage of rehabilitation is restoring function through sport-specific training. This includes:

We monitor these activities here in our office, taking you through motions that mimic the mechanics of your sports. 

Stage 2: Back to practice

Once your shoulder can handle the drills in a clinical setting, we clear you to participate in practice, with some restrictions. 

This transitional stage enables you to participate and build up strength and endurance while protecting your injured shoulder with modified movements.

Stage 3: Back in the game

By this stage, you’re itching to get back in the game, and we don’t blame you. Here’s what we’re looking for before we give you the green light:

These are just a few of the tests we use to assess your shoulder’s stability and determine whether it's ready to return to the demands of competitive participation. 

This approach not only ensures you’re physically ready to play, but it also promotes psychological confidence in your shoulder, which can significantly reduce your risk of reinjury.

The bottom line is that the length of your recovery and the time you spend on the injured list depend on several variables, including the nature of your shoulder injury, the type of treatment, your sport, and your competitive level.

Multiple individual factors also play a role, such as your overall health, adherence to rehab protocol, and nutrition.

If your goal is to minimize your downtime and maximize your performance upon your return, call Tuscaloosa Orthopedic & Joint Institute at 205-391-4440 to schedule an appointment with one of our sports injury shoulder experts. 

You Might Also Enjoy...

4 Reasons Getting Older Hurts Your Back

Everything seems to ache a bit as you age — especially your back. Is it your imagination, maybe because of something you did recently to cause it, or is there some science to back up your age-related back pain? Find out here.

3 Sneaky Causes of Joint Pain Besides Arthritis

Hands down, arthritis tops the charts when it comes to joint pain, but it’s not the only menace to your human hinges. Here’s a look at some lesser-known conditions that cause creaking, stiffness, and pain in your joints.

How to Avoid Waking Up with Shoulder Pain

You went to bed feeling fine, only to wake up with excruciating shoulder pain that makes brushing your teeth and getting dressed nearly impossible. What happened, and how can you avoid it tomorrow?