Shoulder injuries to quarterbacks in the national football league

Am J Sports Med. 2004 Mar;32(2):328-31. doi: 10.1177/0363546503261737.


Background: Quarterbacks are at risk for shoulder injury secondary to both the throwing motion as well as from contact injury.

Objective: To delineate the incidence and etiology of shoulder injuries to quarterbacks in the National Football League (NFL).

Methods: Using the NFL Injury Surveillance System (NFLISS), all reported injuries to quarterbacks between 1980 and 2001 were identified.

Results: A total of 1534 quarterback injuries were identified with a mean of 18.8 and a median of 6.0 days of playing time lost. The majority of these injuries occurred during a game (83.8%). Passing plays were responsible for 77.4% of all quarterback-related injuries. Shoulder injuries were the second most common injury reported (233 or 15.2%), following closely behind head injuries (15.4%). Direct trauma was responsible for 82.3% of the injuries, with acromioclavicular joint sprains being the most common injury overall (40%). Overuse injuries were responsible for 14% of the injuries, the most common being rotator cuff tendinitis (6.1%) followed by biceps tendinitis (3.5%).

Conclusion: In this review, the vast majority of shoulder injuries in quarterbacks occurred as a result of direct trauma (82.3%), and less than 15% were overuse injuries resulting from the actual throwing motion.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Movement
  • Risk Factors
  • Rotator Cuff Injuries
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries