Most Common Baseball Injuries
Baseball is one of America’s favorite sports. For pitchers, it can be incredibly taxing on the arm. Damage or tear to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is the most common injury suffered and is often caused by pitchers throwing too much. This ligament is the main stabilizer of the elbow for the motions of pitching.
Overuse injuries—especially those related to the UCL and shoulder—are preventable.
Some tips to keep you in the game throughout your life include:
- Warm up properly by stretching, running, and easy, gradual throwing
- Rotate playing other positions besides pitcher
- Avoid pitching on multiple teams with overlapping seasons
- Don’t pitch with elbow or shoulder pain, if the pain persists, see a doctor
- Don’t pitch on consecutive days
- Don’t play year-round
- Communicate regularly about how your arm is feeling and if there is pain
- Speak with a sports medicine professional or athletic trainer if you have any concerns about baseball injuries or baseball injury prevention strategies
What to do if you’ve injured your UCL
Many athletes with elbow instability from UCL injury can be treated successfully with rehabilitation and without invasive procedures. At first, symptoms may be treated with rest and/or activity modification (fewer pitches per game, per practice, per day). The athlete’s posture, strength, and release of the ball must be analyzed and corrected. The use of curve balls should be avoided during the early phases of rehabilitation.
Anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics may be used to reduce pain and inflammation. Icing may help but must be used with caution. Too much cold can cause a worsening of the swelling as the body sends more blood to the area to warm things up. And cold can be an irritant to the already damaged (and irritated) nerve.
Many athletes are able to return to play without further treatment. If conservative (non-operative) care does not change the picture, then surgery may be needed.
When the condition fails to respond to conservative care described above, surgery may be indicated. If pain is the primary symptom and there is no evidence that the elbow joint is grossly unstable, the surgeon may use an arthroscope (a tiny fiber-optic TV camera) to look inside the elbow and see the condition of the joint and the soft tissues. It may be possible to debride any tissue fragments or frayed edges. During debridement, the surgeon carefully cleans the area by removing any dead or damaged tissue. Any bone spurs or areas of calcium build-up are also removed.
If you’ve suffered a baseball injury, seek the help of a Pain Management Specialist. Call us today!
Source: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons