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Bursitis: An overlooked injury in Rugby?

A couple of weeks ago, we dived into Hamstring Injuries, inspired by City’s dearest Kevin De Bruyne. This week, GHG’s burst of excitement comes from the Rugby World Cup, especially looking ahead to the England vs Japan this evening.

For most, the first injury that comes to mind is usually the increased risk of concussive events – alas we already have a blog about this . However, we are going to focus on bursitis, often an overlooked injury in many players and something not limited to rugby players but to you and me alike.

So, what is Bursitis?

A bursa is a closed, fluid filled sac that provides cushioning between tissues in the body, especially important near the large joints such as the shoulders, elbows, hips, or knees. The most common cause of bursitis is due to overuse or trauma. However, if you suffer from arthritis, gout, diabetes, thyroid disease or have tendonitis, this may place you at extra risk.

What is the most prominent area of bursitis in rugby players?

The most prevalent area of bursitis in rugby is around the shoulders. This makes sense as broader, more muscular shoulder girdles are advantageous to protect the spine from the force applied through the contact element of the game.

How do I know if I may have bursitis?

The main symptom is pain and tenderness in the area. In an acute attack there may be swelling and visible redness of the area. In more of a chronic picture, there may be periodic attacks of pain and tenderness. It’s important to have this seen to by your GHG clinician as this may be limiting your movement, leading to deconditioning of the muscle and loss of strength in the joint. Sometimes, rolling over on the affected shoulder or joint in the night may wake from sleep.

A clear clinical feature is when lifting the arms past 90 degrees incites pain. Whilst this is not the only feature, generally, bursitis can be diagnosed with a clinical assessment.

So how can GHG help?

GHG professionals will undertake an enhanced clinical assessment and efficiently refer for relevant scans if they deem necessary. Manual therapy is the mainstay of treatment, specifically, excellent to reduce an acute attack of bursitis and as a second-line treatment shockwave therapy is known to be a fantastic alternative to steroid injections for trochanteric (hip) bursitis. All these provisions are available to an excellent standard at GHG.

Alongside manual therapy, a strong rehabilitation exercise regime will help optimise recovery. The focus of these exercises involves correcting posture and any shoulder blade (scapular) abnormalities, using an isometric rotator cuff programme to alleviate pain and then focus on resistance and light weight work to build up the muscles of the shoulder girdle.

Speaking of exercises, how can I be as muscular as a rugby player?

Now we may not be able to work miracles and turn all our service users into George Ford, however, we can give a little insight to what exercises are helpful to build strength. A rugby player’s body is almost like their armour. You want to incorporate a blend of exercises that ‘hypertrophy’ (increase) muscle size and ones that push the muscles to just before the point of overload. The focus is on compound movements, with a gradual increase in weights, such as squats, deadlifts, and chin-ups alongside stability assistance exercises such as lunges, shoulder presses and abdominal work.

The idea is to blend the compound movements with power bursts of stabilising exercises.

However, it is imperative to be assessed by either a GHG professional or seek advice from our personal training services before embarking on any such programme. So whether you’re returning to training, suffering from an injury or just want to work on your fitness, Goodall Healthcare Group can be with you every step of the way!

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