Shoulder Inflammation and the Return of Chris Sale

BIDMC Contributor

SEPTEMBER 13, 2018


Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been on and off the disabled list a few times this year with shoulder inflammation in his throwing arm. As the Red Sox prepare for the postseason, the question remains of how quickly and safely he can return to the mound for multiple innings.

Preeti Shastri, MD, a sports medicine physician at BIDMC, says that much of what will determine Sale’s return is rest time.

“Forceful and repetitive motions can cause the muscles around your shoulder to inflame,” she says. “Inflammation is only aggravated further when not given enough time to heal.”

The Sox are gearing up for October baseball, so timing will be key. “Any pitcher will feel his or her limit in a game—that’s why there’s a pitching rotation,” Shastri says. “Resting when you can will benefit you in the long run.”

In addition to giving your arm a break, Shastri usually recommends the following protocol for patients with shoulder inflammation:

  • Apply an ice pack to the effected area at least 3-4 times per day for 20 minutes. This will help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Use over-the-counter pain medications to further ease pain and reduce inflammation.
  • Do range-of-motion exercises to improve joint mobility:
    • Pendulum exercises – bend forward slightly, and gently swing your arm forward and back.
    • Arm circles – bend forward slightly, and gently swing your arm in small circles, using body motion to initiate the movement.
    • Wall walks – place your hands on a wall at shoulder level, and gently “walk” your fingers up the wall as high as you can.

Learn more about shoulder injuries and sports medicine care available at BIDMC.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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