By: 21 April 2015
Shoulder the burden – Phil Holland, Emma Torrance and Lennard Funk

Shoulder the burden – Phil Holland, Emma Torrance and Lennard Funk report on serious shoulder injuries in paddle sport to establish common mechanisms and patterns of injury

There has been a massive boom in paddle sports in the UK, with an estimated two million participants annually [1]. Paddle sports include canoeing and kayaking. The difference between the two is that in a canoe the paddler kneels and uses a single-bladed paddle (Figure 1), whereas in a kayak the paddler sits and uses a double-bladed paddle (Figure 2). White-water paddling is one of the most high-adrenaline and dangerous paddle sports: one in ten white-water paddlers report having a near-death experience and injuries are common – on average, paddlers sustain 4.5 injuries per thousand days paddled [2].
Paddlers use their shoulders in a unique way and place high demands on them. This makes the shoulder the most commonly injured joint among paddlers; up to 6 per cent of sea paddlers injure their shoulders during their lifetime and shoulder injuries are thought to be more common among white-water and competitive paddlers [2]. Patients with shoulder injuries take the second longest time to return to paddle sports (spinal injuries have the longest recovery periods) [2].
Despite the widespread recognition that in paddle sports shoulder injuries are common and often serious, little more is known. In this article, we report the largest case series of serious shoulder injuries among paddlers so far, to establish common mechanisms and patterns of injury.


The review

We reviewed 55 shoulder injuries in 52 paddlers. The mean age was 36 years (range 14 months), and 31 shoulder injuries were in males and 24 in females. Patient data was analysed pre- and post-procedure. A significant improvement in…

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