Rotational glenohumeral adaptations are associated with shoulder pathology in professional male handball players

Przemyslaw Lubiatowski, Piotr Kaczmarek, Pawel Cisowski, Ewa Breborowicz, Monika Grygorowicz, Marcin Dzianach, Tomasz Krupecki, Lior Laver, Leszek Romanowski
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy 2018, 26 (1): 67-75

PURPOSE: Glenohumeral range of motion adaptations may affect throwing athletes and contribute to shoulder injury. The purpose of this study was to evaluate shoulder rotation deficits among elite professional handball players and its correlation to the presence of shoulder pain and morphological changes.

METHODS: Eighty-seven elite professional handball players and 41 healthy non-athlete volunteers participated in the study. Evaluations included measurement of range of internal and external rotation, total arch of motion, identification of shoulder pain and ultrasound scan for diagnosis of rotator cuff tears and internal impingement.

RESULTS: Glenohumeral rotational deficits (>20-25°) were found among 11 players group (13%). The throwing shoulders in the players group showed a decrease in internal rotation and an increase in external rotation with significantly larger ranges among players compared to the non-athlete group. Internal rotation deficit >20° was associated with higher incidence of shoulder pain among players. Both internal rotation deficits (>25°) and total arch of motion deficit (>20°) co-existed with higher incidence of internal impingement. Shoulder pain was common (36/97-41%) and was associated with decreased external rotation and total arch of motion. Internal impingement (found in 13/87-15%) correlated with decreased rotation ranges and a greater deficit in total arch of motion, whereas higher gain in external rotation correlated with a partial rotator cuff tear (found in 12/87-14%).

CONCLUSIONS: Shoulder pathologies and problems commonly affected the group of handball players. Greater glenohumeral rotational deficits in throwing shoulders of handball players correlate with shoulder pain and internal impingement, while increased external rotation with partial rotator cuff tears. Such deficits affect 13% of the athlete population. Major clinical relevance of the study is to monitor handball players' shoulders both clinically and by proper imaging. Evaluation of range of rotation seems to identify shoulders at risk of the pathology.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Cross-Sectional study with control group, Level II.

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