Jasmine Sifuentez, 21, of Orland Park, IL, stepped back on the softball mound this spring for the first time in more than a year. A pitcher for the University of St. Francis softball team, she is part of a growing number of young athletes missing playing time and experiencing pain from overuse injuries.
Training nine months each year for much of her life, playing softball has become her way of life. However, over time, she developed a nagging pain in her right shoulder that she assumed was a normal consequence of pitching. Eventually, it became too much and she began physical therapy to treat it conservatively. Then, one day, while still in physical therapy and practicing normally, her shoulder pain took a turn for the worse.
“It was during the fall season and I had thrown a lot the day before,” explains Sifuentez. “I was training in the weight room doing squats when I heard a snap in my right shoulder. I knew something was wrong immediately.”
Concerned that it was time to take her shoulder condition seriously, she visited the athletic trainers at her school who referred her to sports medicine surgeon Dr. Brian Forsythe at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush. After a consultation, he diagnosed a labral tear in her right shoulder and recommended surgery to repair it.
“I was definitely scared going into surgery, but also kind of relieved,” Sifuentez said. “Dr. Forsythe and his team thoroughly explained everything to me, which put me at ease. After playing through the pain for so long, it was a relief to finally have a plan to fix it.”
After her successful surgery, she completed a regimen of physical therapy and was cleared by Dr. Forsythe to throw for her junior year. For the first time since high school, she was pitching pain-free in what she considers her “best season yet.” She and her team did so well that they went on to compete in Nationals at the 2015 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Softball World Series in Columbia, KY.
She credits Dr. Forsythe getting her back to playing the game she loves and returning her to the same level of play.