With the contact nature of rugby there’s a fair chance that at some point in the season an individual is likely to pick up some form of injury. Follow Jack’s story on his shoulder injury and road to recovery.

Likely not a surprise, but as a high contact sport, injuries are common in rugby players and most occur during matches and tackles, with shoulder injuries being one of the most frequent. Getting back to the game safely is a priority and knowing when to seek help can aid recovery.
Today, Jack, our Sports Therapist and Sports Massage Therapist is sharing his own recovery journey from a rugby shoulder injury.

At age 16, while playing academy rugby, I dislocated my shoulder for the first time. After a visit to A&E, it was diagnosed as a posterior dislocation, which accounts for only 2-5% of all shoulder dislocations. I wore a sling for 2 weeks, gradually taking it out to regain full range of motion after a week. I completed 3-4 months of rehabilitation in a professional rugby environment, which included range of motion, strength, proprioceptive training and a return to play programme. 

Once I returned to play, I had no issues in the remainder of the games I played for the academy. However this was not many as I was blighted with other injuries over this time and moving on from that I had 2 years out of rugby due to injury. I was still active and attending the gym, so had no problem with my shoulder through this time.

At age 20 I decided to make a “comeback” and started playing 7’s and 15’s rugby again. It wasn’t long after that I dislocated my shoulder again. I didn’t go to the hospital this time because I figured out I was able to relocate it myself. At this point the recovery was a lot quicker than the first time. I did rehabilitation again and carried on with my strength work in the gym, however it did not help much as I re-dislocated once again on return. At this point I started having my shoulder heavily strapped for every game, which helped somewhat, but did not prevent them all together, just reduced their frequency. From then on I was able to re-locate the dislocations myself on the pitch and carry on playing.

This continued for the next 2 years, dislocating my shoulder between 15-20 times in total. At this point recovery time was non-existent and my shoulder felt back to normal in less than a week, with no pain or discomfort, however, I had noticed it bothering me a lot more in every day life. It began to subluxate when doing small things like pulling back the shower curtain or pushing off to get out of bed.

I decided I’d had enough and that it was the right time to have it looked at properly and push for an operation. Luckily I got seen quickly and pushed through to see a consultant. He agreed there was potentially something wrong structurally, so had the relevant imaging taken. The investigations revealed that I had a Reverse Bankart Lesion.  This is a tear of the posterior labrum in the shoulder, which would explain why my shoulder dislocated and relocated so easily.

At age 22 I had keyhole surgery to fix my labrum. I once again found myself in a sling for a month and then completed 6 months of rehabilitation, gradually regaining full range of motion, functional strength and proprioception. On return to rugby I completed a return to play programme for a month, which included gradual return to contact drills, sports specific movements and shoulder stabilisation strengthening.

I returned to playing rugby on November 2019 at age 23. 3 years have gone by and I’ve now played 3 more seasons of rugby and have had no problems with my shoulder.

Symptoms of Reverse Bankart Lesion

  1. Shoulder Pain: Pain in the back of the shoulder, especially when reaching backward or during certain movements, is a primary symptom.
  2. Weakness: You may experience weakness in the affected shoulder, particularly when trying to lift objects or perform activities that require strength.
  3. Instability: The shoulder joint may feel unstable or loose. This instability can result in a sensation that the shoulder is slipping out of place.
  4. Catching or Clicking Sensation: Some individuals with a reverse Bankart lesion may notice a catching or clicking sensation when moving the shoulder.
  5. Limited Range of Motion: Reduced range of motion in the shoulder is common. You may find it challenging to move the shoulder in certain directions.
  6. Pain with Specific Movements: Pain may be more pronounced during specific movements or activities, such as reaching behind your back or reaching overhead.
  7. Swelling and Bruising: Following the initial injury, you may experience swelling and bruising around the shoulder joint.
  8. Muscle Atrophy: Over time, muscle atrophy (shrinkage) may occur in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, particularly if the injury is not addressed promptly.

Once you’ve identified and started to look after your injury the right way, it may start to settle down naturally or, like Jack, you may need further help. Speaking to a Physiotherapist about your injury may help ease and treat your symptoms to get you back out in that scrum as soon as possible.

Helping you live your healthiest and happiest life. Revival Health & Wellbeing Centre offers a variety of treatments, clinics, counselling and holistic therapies from our specialist team of practitioners.

Please contact us on 01386 792 126 to discuss your consultation.