Mark Mulder has had the kind of season that makes you want to cry. To see a pitcher that is used to success fall flat is never easy, but to watch him fall with so hard stirs up curiosity. Morbid curiosity.
During the season the St. Louis Cardinals have said that Mark Mulder wasn’t suffering from a any physical ailments. To the untrained eye he looked like something was wrong, but without any sort of physical evidence you couldn’t tell. The local media were imploring the Cardinals to shut down Mark Mulder so he could fix whatever is wrong, but the team let him continue to pitch.
It was a mistake.
Earlier this week it came out that the St. Louis Cardinals were putting Mark Mulder on the disabled list with shoulder impingement. As the news broke fans said, “Finally.” It became apparent that the Cardinals’ medical staff was playing a waiting game with Mark Mulder.
But when you hear the word shoulder impingement you know it has something to do with the shoulder, but what exactly. Well, impingement means to collide or strike or to encroach. So just what is the shoulder colliding with or encroaching on?
Your shoulder is a marvelous device that allows your arm to move. It is complex, but is held in place with muscles, ligaments and tendons. An important part of this is the rotator cuff that allows you to raise your arm. When a shoulder impingement occurs the tendons in your shoulder are compressing the rotator cuff. In other words, the tendons are encroach on the rotator cuff’s space.
What are the symptoms of shoulder impingement? Your arm is going to lose strength and your ability to move your arm up and down without pain is going to disappear. There may be localized swelling as well. This is due to inflammation caused by the tendons compressing the rotator cuff.
What is the treatment for shoulder impingement? You can treat shoulder impingement easily, but for professional athletes it’s very hard. You need to stop doing the activity that is causing the pain, allow the inflammation to stop and the body to heal itself. In Mark Mulder’s case he needs to stop pitching. In your case you’ll need to put off work that requires you to raise your arms.
You should ice the affected shoulder to limit the inflammation and take anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Tylenol. After several months if normal treatment doesn’t work, your doctor may inject you with a very powerful anti-inflammatory drug. If all else fails you will need surgery to open the space around your rotator cuff and move the tendons. This is rarely needed, though.
How long does it take to recover from shoulder impingement? Usually recovery happens in a month, but sometimes it might take several months of conventional treatment. The problem with shoulder impingement and most other shoulder injuries is that when you hurt your shoulder it becomes prone to injury in the future. That’s why it’s important to not rush the schedule.
My guess is that you won’t see Mark Mulder pitching for the Cardinals until August 1, 2006.