Two most common injuries among baseball players, especially pitchers, are baseball shoulder injuries and baseball elbow injuries. This results in an inability to throw with velocity and is usually caused due to injury to either the soft-tissue structures of the shoulder joint or the bones. South Florida’s sub-tropical climate is perfect for year-around sports, which means we see year-around sports injuries. Some of the most common injuries accompany America’s pastime, baseball. We see many shoulder and elbow injuries, especially in our young athletes. Many young baseball pitchers play in multiple leagues, and with each pitch thrown, the risk of shoulder and elbow injuries grows. Palm Beach Sports Medicine treats a considerable number of baseball shoulder and baseball elbow injuries.
Baseball Shoulder Injuries
Baseball shoulder pain can come from the bones that make up the shoulder joint and can be a cause for concern among players of all ages.
- Diagnosis – To diagnose the cause of pain in a patient’s throwing, it is important that their history is looked into. Among things to be assessed are how long the pain has been present for, whether it is chronic or acute, where is the pain location, how long has the person been playing baseball, what position does he play, etc. Once a doctor gets all the answers, he will conduct a physical examination to find the type of injury and to appraise whether it is important for additional imagery tests like x-rays or MRIs.
- Treatment – While there are many options to treat baseball shoulder pain in throwers, it is often best to identify it early by reading the signs and prevent it subsequently. Resting the arm is one of the first things to do. Any activity that increases the pain should be avoided. An average of 3 months of rest with a gradual return is recommended for Little Leaguer’s (age 12 or below) shoulder. Problems with soft tissue stabilizers require a physical therapy program that focuses on strengthening and stretching the muscles and ligaments of the shoulder.
- Surgery – Surgery is an option if rest and physical therapy have been unsuccessful. Open or arthroscopic surgery, which includelabral repair, posterior capsular release and anterior capsular placation might be required.
Baseball Elbow Injuries
Baseball elbow injuries are another common type of injury that plagues players of all ages. These injuries lead to damage or tear to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and are caused by pitchers throwing too much.
- Diagnosis – If an athlete has been throwing too much, too hard or too early without a proper warm-up, it may lead to an elbow injury. The most common sign of an injury is a sharp pain in the elbow after throwing or if moving the joint itself is painful or restrictive as compared to the other arm. A sports physician is the best person to diagnose a baseball elbow injury immediately.
- Treatment – Rest is the most common and efficient treatment for baseball elbow injury. An application of ice to the area can reduce inflammation or soreness and painkiller like Ibuprofen can be administered after consulting with a medical practitioner. Symptoms that persist should then be shown to a physician who will conduct MRIs and radiographs apart from other examinations to gauge the issue.
- Surgery – At times, surgery might be a necessary option if the above mentioned treatments don’t seem to take effect. Surgery like Arthroscopy, UCL reconstruction, or Ulnar nerve anterior transposition may be recommended depending on the diagnosis of the physician.
At Palm Beach Sports Medicine, we want to prevent these injuries, and reduce the number of young sportsmen who need treatment. To that end, we work not only with baseball players, but also their parents and coaches, to educate them about the proper way to protect their joints while delivering devastating pitches. Additionally, our Physical Therapy staff and our surgeons work closely together to offer Thrower’s 10 and Advanced Throwers’ 10 protocols to help prevent future injuries to the elbow’s ulnar collateral ligament, tears of the shoulder labrum, biceps injuries, and scapular motion problems.