Monday, August 26, 2013

Maria Sharapova and the rotator cuff

The New York Times has reported that Ms Sharapova will miss the United States Open because of 'bursitis'. The article also points out that she has had surgery to repair "two tears in her rotator cuff in October 2008".

We have no 'insider information' on the nature of this injury, but one might wonder about a diagnosis of 'bursitis' in a shoulder that has had prior cuff surgery. Tennis, especially at her level and especially with serves and backhands, places a huge load on the cuff due to the long lever arm between the point of contact of the ball on the racket and the humeral head (say 40 inches) in contrast to the short lever arm through which the rotator cuff has to act (say one inch). Because force X lever arm = force X lever arm, one can see that the force of the racket on the ball produces 40 times this impact on the cuff. Thus, rather than 'bursitis' one might expect that the problem is related to heavy loading on the repaired tendon. Hopefully, the tendon remains sufficiently intact to enable her to return to play.

For more on the cuff, see rotator cuff surgery.

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