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Open Access Research article

Overload and neovascularization of shoulder tendons in volleyball players

Angela Notarnicola12*, Francesco Fischetti1, Donato Gallone1, Lorenzo Moretti2, Pasquale Pignataro4, Silvio Tafuri3 and Biagio Moretti12

Author Affiliations

1 Course of Motor and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Study of Bari, Lungomare Starita 1, 70123, Bari, Italy

2 Orthopedics Section, Department of Neuroscience and Organs of Sense, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Study of Bari, General Hospital, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy

3 Department of Biomedical Sciences and Human Oncology, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Study of Bari, General Hospital, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy

4 Radiology Section, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Study of Bari, General Hospital, Piazza Giulio Cesare 11, 70124, Bari, Italy

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:397  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-397

Published: 1 August 2012

Abstract

Background

In overhead sports like volleyball, the onset of a rotator cuff tendinopathy due to functional overload is a common observation. An angiofibroblastic etiopathogenesis has been hypothesized, whereby a greater anaerobic metabolism occurs in critical zones of the tendon with a lower degree of vascularization; this would induce collagen and extracellular matrix degradation, that could then trigger a compensatory neovascularization response. We performed a clinical observational study of 80 elite volleyball players, monitoring the perfusion values of the supraspinatus tendons by oximetry.

Results

No statistically significant differences were found between the oximetry data and age, sex or years of sports activity, nor when comparing the right and left arm or the dominant and non-dominant arm. A statistically significant difference was found for the dominant arm values in relation to the competitive role, higher values being obtained in outside hitters (62.7%) than middle hitters (53.7%) (p = 0.01), opposite hitters (55.5%) (p = 0.02) and libero players (54.4%) (p = 0.008), whereas there were no differences in setters (56.2%) (p > 0.05).

Conclusions

The different tendon vascularization values found in players with different roles in the team may be attributed to a response to the specific biomechanical demands posed by the different overhead throwing roles.

Keywords:
Shoulder; Overuse; Volleyball