Background An understanding of the epidemiology of shoulder dislocation/subluxation in rugby union players could help develop targeted prevention programmes and treatment. We performed a multiyear epidemiological survey of shoulder dislocation/subluxation in a large cohort of rugby players.
Methods A descriptive epidemiological study was performed prospectively for five playing seasons (2008–2013) in all players licensed in the French Rugby Union. Rugby players were categorised into five groups by age. The player and the team physician reported the injury to the club insurance company if it occurred during training or a match. The goals of the study were to define the rate, type and causes of shoulder dislocation/subluxation.
Results 88 044 injuries were reported, including 1345 (1.5%) episodes of dislocation/subluxation in 1317 men and 28 women, mean age 22.5±5.9 years. About 10/10 000 men and 5/10 000 women reported an episode of shoulder dislocation/subluxation per season, including 83/10 000 senior professionals, 17/10 000 senior amateurs, 21/10 000 juniors, 12/10 000 cadets and <1/10 000 rugby school players. Shoulder dislocation/subluxation was significantly more frequent in senior and junior players (p<0.001). Injuries mainly occurred during a match (66%) in the middle of the season (44%). The most frequent playing position was forwards (56%) and the main mechanism was tackling (69%). When reported, the history of recurrence was found in 66% of injured players, fractures in 22% and acromioclavicular injury in 6.7%. Nerve injury was associated with shoulder dislocation in 6% of cases.
Conclusions Senior professionals and junior male forward rugby players with a history of shoulder dislocation/subluxation should receive special attention from sports medicine professionals and orthopaedic surgeons.
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