Sports-Induced Shoulder and Elbow Pain


Across the nation, there is a growing concern over the rising rates of overuse injuries. We don’t have to look too far to see it’s true. As a massage and injury prevention therapist, I see it daily in the rising number of young athletes who visit my office in Bethel, CT. Just like the rest of the country, in Connecticut, shoulder and elbow pain are becoming epidemic. See What the Public Doesn’t Know.

This is the time of year I see the most cases of shoulder and elbow pain. From spring into summer months, many sports focus on repetitive overhead arm movements. Athletes most prone to these specific injuries are those who participate in baseball, softball, lacrosse, javelin, volleyball, swimming and tennis.


  • Rotator cuff tendinitis: Tendons become inflamed.
  • Impingement syndrome: Inflammation of rotator cuff, tendons and bursa.
  • Shoulder instability/dislocation: Ball moves out of socket.
  • Little league shoulder: Separation in growth plate.
  • SLAP tear: Tear at the top shoulder socket where biceps tendons attach to shoulder.


  • Tennis elbow: Inflammation of inner or outer extensor or flexor elbow tendons.
  • Little league elbow: Swelling and/or separation in growth plate.
  • Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD): Erosion of cartilage and underlying bone in part of a joint. This is the leading cause of permanent elbow disability in adolescent athletes.
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury: Inflammation or tear of inner elbow tendons. The most common injury in throwers, widely known for leading to Tommy John Surgery. See Preventing Tommy John Surgery.

The key to avoiding shoulder and elbow pain and injuries is prevention. Overuse injuries often go undiagnosed in the early stages because athletes dismiss minor aches and pains as simply soreness. When the same muscle is being used repetitively, it begins to tighten. Over time, if the area remains untreated, it will eventually become painful and tear.

Anyone who is continually active is susceptible to overuse injuries. We’re not just talking about Tommy John Surgery. As you can see from the list above, there are many common aches and injuries that result from playing sports.


Seeking massage therapy before you’re hurt is the key to keeping those sports injuries at bay. When a person comes in for prevention therapy, we generally set up three sessions, preferably at the beginning, middle and end of the sports season. See Can Injuries be Prevented through Massage?

During the first session, I do a thorough check of every muscle from head to toe, to check for any swelling, knots or pain. Through this assessment, we often find areas in the body (trigger points) that are in pre-injury state – areas the athlete was unaware of. I note these on a diagram so we can continue to keep an eye on them. During the second and third sessions, we evaluate all muscles from head to toe, paying special attention to previously identified trigger points. In most cases, three sessions are enough to track progress. The goal is to find any problem areas and treat them before they become an injury.

If you are experiencing shoulder and elbow pain, contact me for a consultation.

Ron McKnight
4 Sunset Hill Rd.
Bethel, CT 06801

Ron Mc Knight

Comments are closed.