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Cycling injuries



Cycling injuries

Cycling is an increasing participation sport both for recreation, commuting and competition with a rapid expansion in the number of cycling events.


Shoulder injuries in cycling are very common, approximately half of reported injuries occur in road traffic accidents. An increase in the popularity of downhill mountain biking has also seen a rise in injuries.

The most common mechanism is a fall over the handle bars with either direct or indirect trauma onto the shoulder.

The most common injury is a clavicle fracture. Initial symptoms include localised pain and bruising and dysfunction in the arm. Fracture of the mid portion of clavicle is the most frequently injured.

Undisplaced fractures will usually heal without problems and need some time in a sling (usually 2-3 weeks). There is debate over treatment of displaced fractures. It is known that about 15% of displaced fractures fail to heal (non union). It is impossible to predict at the outset which fractures are not going to heal.

Surgery with open reduction and fixation with a plate has been shown to speed recovery and improve the rate of healing. However this is not without complications. At the minute there is debate about the use of operations for all displaced clavicle fractures, as the majority heal with good functional outcome. To read more click here.

An X-ray of a displaced fracture

A fall onto the point of the shoulder is the usual mechanism of injury for acromioclavicular joint dislocations. Symptoms would be

  • Localised ac joint pain bruising
  • Deformity
  • Pain on high arc of abduction
  • Pain on cross body movements

This picture shows the deformity of a type III ACJ dislocaton.

To read more about AC Joint injuries click here

Other common injuries include proximal humeral fracture, shoulder dislocations and rotator cuff injuries.

One should be suspicious of a rotator cuff injury if there is persisting pain in the shoulder or upper arm and difficulty/ weakness on reach or rotation of the arm.

Andrew Brooksbank

Updated 2016 





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