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Common Injuries in Baseball and How To Treat Them

Orthopedic doctor checks elbow injury

Common Injuries in Baseball - and How To Treat Them

Here in New York, baseball is king! While it doesn’t share the same level of physical intensity as football or hockey, there are still several common baseball injuries that can place you on the bench indefinitely.

Explore some of the most common injuries in baseball to look out for and how our qualified specialists can help you take the field at 100%!

Torn Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff helps stabilize and control movement in your shoulder. Throwing a baseball over and over puts a lot of stress on the muscles and tendons that make up the rotator cuff. While this injury is most common in pitchers, any player is at risk of a tear.

Small tears can cause significant shoulder pain in your rotator cuff, making it difficult to throw a ball properly. More extreme tears can lead to severe immobility and pain that can put you out for a season – or your entire career – so it’s important to address these types of tears early.

Surgery is often required to address rotator cuff tears. Debridement, a surgical procedure that removes dead or damaged tissue, is a common way to address partial tears. For more severe tears, a sports medicine specialist may need to reattach the torn tendon to the upper arm. Recover time for this type of procedure takes around 6-12 weeks.

Labrum Tear

Tearing of the labrum, the thin layer of cartilage that covers your shoulder socket, is one of the most common baseball injuries that affect players. This is another injury you can sustain by repeatedly throwing a ball over time. As a result, pitchers tend to be the most at risk.

Minor labrum tears won’t often cause too much discomfort. However, major tears can lead to shoulder pain, swelling, instability and difficulty throwing a ball. Often, minor tears will rectify on their own with plenty of rest and anti-inflammatories. Several different surgical procedures are designed to repair more severe tears, which consist of removing any damaged tissue and, in some cases, reattaching the torn labrum back to the bone. Labrum tear surgeries tend to have a log recovery time, around 3-6 months.

Thrower’s Elbow

Thrower’s Elbow, or medial epicondylitis, occurs when there’s damage to the tendons that connect the wrist to the palm. Damage occurs when players repeatedly flex and extend their forearm, which is common when throwing a baseball. Players that experience this condition will undergo pain along the inside of the elbow and forearm.

In most cases, Thrower’s Elbow will resolve itself with rest and anti-inflammatories. More severe cases may require steroid injections or surgery where a specialist will cut the tendon and remove any scar tissue. It may take around 4-6 months to return to the game.

UCL Sprains

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is situated in the inner part of the elbow and helps to provide stability – especially when throwing a baseball. UCL tears are one of the most common baseball injuries that affect pitchers since repeatedly throwing a baseball at high-velocity places stress on the UCL. Over time, the UCL will weaken, causing small to large tears that can hinder movement and affect the accuracy of throws.

Surgical reconstruction is often the best way to rectify both major and minor tears, as minor ones often take very long to heal on their own. UCL reconstruction is so common in professional baseball, they nicknamed the procedure “Tommy John surgery,” after the famous pitcher who played in the MLB for 26 seasons and underwent the surgery in 1974. Recovery times for this procedure can be extensive, taking as long as 2 years before you can get back to your peak performance.

Hand and Wrist Injuries

While many don’t consider baseball a high-contact sport, wrists and hands are still prone to impacts that can cause injuries like dislocations, sprains, bruising and more. Hand and wrist pain associated with these injuries can range from mild to severe.

Rest and icing the area should be enough for the vast majority of these types of injuries. For injured fingers, it's best to see a qualified sport medicine specialist so they can tape and stabilize the injury properly. Most common injuries will heal within 2-10 weeks.

NY Orthopedics has multiple clinics across New York and an office in New Jersey with physicians who know exactly how to treat the most common baseball injuries. If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we’ve listed above, schedule an appointment today, and our team of professionals will help you get back in the game in no time!

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