February 05, 2018
2 min read

High rate of return to play found among NFL players after treatment for shoulder instability

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National Football League players experienced a high rate of return to play after shoulder instability, regardless of treatment modality, according to results.

Among 83 NFL players who sustained an in-season shoulder instability event, Kelechi R. Okoroha, MD, and colleagues collected NFL return to play, incidence of surgery, time to return to play, recurrent instability events, seasons/games played after the injury and demographic data. Researchers determined overall return to play and compared players who underwent operative repair to players who had nonoperative treatment.

Kelechi R. Okoroha

Results showed 92% of NFL players who sustained either a shoulder subluxation or a dislocation and did not undergo surgical repair returned to NFL regular season play at a median of 0 weeks and 3 weeks, respectively. Researchers found a median return to play of 39.3 weeks among players who underwent operative repair.

A recurrent instability event occurred in 47% of players. Researchers noted a lower recurrence rate and longer interval between a recurrent instability event among players who underwent surgical repair and were able to return to play.

“Regardless of treatment modality, there is a high rate of [return to play] RTP following shoulder instability events in NFL players,” Okoroha told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “Players who sustain shoulder subluxations RTP faster, but also have earlier recurrent instability events compared to players with dislocations. In NFL athletes who have surgery following shoulder instability, there is a decreased incidence of subsequent instability and a longer event-free interval compared to players who do not have surgery.” – by Casey Tingle


Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.