With baseball season in full swing during the Summer months, elbow pain is pretty common among many baseball pitchers. From overuse and repetitive motions of throwing the baseball, pitchers place high stress on their elbows, resulting in pulling and stretching their tendons and ligaments.
The pain is usually felt along the inside of the elbow during or after throwing the ball. It can occur gradually, but in some instances of severe injury, it can occur suddenly with a tear or pop. The elbow joint may also feel locked or stuck. Pitcher’s Elbow is capable of limiting one’s range of motion, making it difficult to move the elbow.
There are certain risk factors that can increase a player’s chance of developing pitcher’s elbow. These include: age (younger players are at higher risk of permanent injury since their joints bones and ligaments are still growing), overuse, height and weight (taller and heavier pitchers), throwing curveballs (these put additional stress on ligaments), and improper techniques.
This throwing injury in the elbow isn’t just limited to baseball pitchers. They can occur in any athlete who participates in repetitive overhand throwing including softball, tennis, golf, and football.
One can avoid overuse injuries altogether by maintaining flexibility and strength through proper conditioning and technique. For younger athletes, there are pitching guidelines that allow them a certain number of pitches per game and week, along with the types of pitches thrown, in order to protect them from such injuries.
Treating the pain followed from repetitive throwing is to give your elbow plenty of rest to recover from the inflammation and injury. Adding ice to reduce the swelling can also help.
In more severe cases, other treatment options can include physical therapy where the pitcher is slowly rehabilitated back to throwing. Throwing technique analysis can also be an option where mechanics are evaluated and corrected to avoid putting excessive stress on the elbow. Anti-inflammatory medications or even surgery may also be recommended.
If you have experienced sudden or recurrent elbow pain, rest the elbow immediately and seek medical attention if the pain doesn’t improve.