Shoulder dislocation not always a season ender

When Kevin Love joined Kyrie Irving and LeBron James, the bar was set high for the Cavaliers with the NBA’s newest “Big 3.” The Cavs struggled early last season, as expected, but got better with each game. They blew through the playoffs and got to the finals where they lost to the Warriors. It was a very successful season considering it was plagued with injuries. Love went out in the first round of the playoffs against the Celtics when he dislocated his left shoulder. The injury occurred when Love and Kelly Olynyk chased a loose ball and Olynyk pulled on Love’s arm. Love had surgery three days later.

Dislocated shoulder imageA shoulder dislocation occurs when the upper arm bone (humerus) is no longer in contact with the socket (glenoid). More than 90 percent of the time, shoulder dislocations are anterior, where the humerus dislocates in front and below the glenoid. It also can be posterior, where the humerus dislocates behind the glenoid.

Shoulder stability is provided by the bony anatomy, the labrum (soft-tissue thickening surrounding the rim of the socket), capsular ligaments and the rotator cuff muscles. All can be injured when the shoulder is dislocated.

“The need for surgery depends on the age and functional demands of the patient,” said Dr. Steven Chudik, orthopaedic surgeon and sports medicine physician with the Steven Chudik Shoulder and Knee Injury Clinic, and founder of the Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Teaching and Research Foundation (OTRF) in Westmont, Ill. “For younger athletic patients, the risk for re-dislocation is very high and often requires surgery to restore shoulder stability. I prefer to repair the injured shoulder tissue arthroscopically using small, limited incisions (< 1 cm) and a camera. Prognosis is excellent and I expect a full return to activities for my patients in approximately four to six months,” he explained.

After Love’s shoulder dislocation, Irving went out early in the finals with a fractured left patella (knee cap) leaving James as the only healthy member of the “Big 3.” With loses of a few key role players earlier in the season, the Cavs’ options of players were limited. They ended up losing in the finals to the Warriors in six games. The Cavs have high expectations for the upcoming season with the return of Love who hopefully will be back playing at full capacity after re-signing with the team.

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