Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research ®

A Publication of The Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ®

Glenoid Stress Distribution in Baseball Players Using Computed Tomography Osteoabsorptiometry: A Pilot Study

Tomohiro Shimizu MD, Norimasa Iwasaki MD, PhD, Kinya Nishida MD, PhD, Akio Minami MD, PhD, Tadanao Funakoshi MD, PhD

Abstract

Background

It is important to understand the loading conditions when considering the pathology of shoulder disorders in overhead athletes. However, because throwing is a complicated motion and methods to directly determine stress distribution are complex, direct measurement of the stress distribution across the glenohumeral joint has not been attempted. Subchondral bone density reportedly reflects the cumulative stress acting on a joint surface under actual loading conditions.

Questions/purposes

To assess alterations in stress distribution across the glenoid cavity caused by pitching, we investigated the distribution of subchondral bone density in nonathletic volunteers and asymptomatic baseball players, including fielders and pitchers.

Methods

We collected CT imaging data from the dominant-side shoulder of 10 nonathletic volunteers (controls), 10 fielders, and 10 pitchers in a competitive college baseball league (all men aged 19–24 years, mean 20.7 years). We measured the distribution of subchondral bone density of the glenoid cavity using CT osteoabsorptiometry. The obtained stress distribution map was divided into four segments: anterosuperior, anteroinferior, posteroinferior, and posterosuperior regions. We quantitatively analyzed the location and percentages of high-density regions on the articular surface.

Results

The percentages of high-density regions, including the anteroinferior and posterior segments, were greater in pitchers and fielders than in controls. The percentages of high-density regions did not differ between pitchers and fielders.

Conclusions

The bicentric density patterns indicated that the cumulative force of pitching activity affected the long-term stress distribution across the glenoid cavity.

Clinical Relevance

Our data should be useful for analyzing pitching activity and clarifying the pathology of shoulder disorders associated with throwing.

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