Baseball players, especially pitchers, subject their elbows to extremely high stress particularly on overhand throws. When overhand throws are repeated many times over practice sessions and competitive games, the elbow can suffer from serious overuse injury.
The elbow experiences significant stress from the repetitive movements until such time that it does not have sufficient time to rest and, thus, heal. With daily practice sessions followed by competitive games, the acute injury caused by the gradual yet excessive wear and tear becomes too difficult to ignore.
Understanding the strong yet fragile nature of the elbow requires understanding its anatomy. The elbow joint is the point where three bones, namely, the humerus (upper arm bone), the radius, and the ulna (forearm bones) meet in the arm. This joint is actually a combination of a hinge, which lets the arms straighten and bend, and a pivot, which lets the arm rotate and twist.
The elbow is also composed of collateral ligaments, which are thick ligaments, on the inner and outer sides that hold the joint together, thus, preventing dislocation. Muscles, nerves and tendons also cross at the elbow, adding stability to the joint especially during throwing.
Each one of these parts is at risk for overuse injuries although the most common areas injured are at the inside of the elbow. This is because the considerable force exerted during throwing is concentrated in this area, which increases the repetitive stress on the joint:
- The most common elbow injuries in baseball pitchers – or for that matter, all athletes who perform repetitive throwing motions – include:Flexor tendinitis, an inflammation of the flexor/pronator tendons that cause pain on the affected elbow’s inside part either when throwing or at rest in severe cases.
- Ulnar collateral ligament injury, an injury that can range from mild to major damage involving a complete tear to the ligament. Its signs include pain inside the elbow and a decrease in throwing velocity
- Valgus extension overload, an injury wherein cartilage wears away and then develops bone overgrowth (i.e., spurs) resulting in pain and swelling in the bones.
- Olecranon stress fracture, a condition where the fatigued muscles are unable to absorb the added stress and shock to the bone.
- Ulnar neuritis, an injury to the ulnar nerve characterized by a painful snapping and irritation.
Healthpointe’s doctors and surgeons are available for consultations on all elbow and sport related injuries; for more information please call (888) 824-5580 or visit www.Healthpointe.net
Healthpointe is a leading multidisciplinary healthcare organization offering a full range of medical services in practice locations throughout Southern California (Los Angeles County, Orange County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County). Healthpointe has locations situated in over 10 cities in Southern California including Colton, which is conveniently located near Rialto, Bloomington, San Bernardino, Loma Linda, Highgrove, and Grand Terrace. As a highly regarded musculoskeletal group, we have a personal investment in the highest level of service, and we are proud of our record of excellence over the last four decades with private patients, injured workers, urgent care, personal injuries, and professional and non-professional athletes. Leading our organization is a dynamic team of healthcare professionals who continually strive to be at the forefront of medical innovation and healthcare service delivery. For more information, a complete list of services, and Healthpointe locations, visit www.Healthpointe.net