Common Baseball Injuries
Playing sports helps people of all ages maintain their physical fitness. However, regardless of any safety precautions, athletes always face some risk of getting injured. Though baseball doesn’t involve as much physical contact as some other sports, the repetitive nature of pitching, hitting, and throwing can expose baseball players to a few common injuries.
Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury
The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) connects the forearm to the upper arm and stabilizes the elbow. Repeatedly pitching and throwing a baseball can strain or tear the UCL, causing elbow stiffness, pain, swelling, and a loss of arm control. Some UCL injuries can be treated with rest and adjusting warm-up routines, but a severe tear may require surgery.
The forceful swinging generated by pitching and batting places a great deal of pressure on a player’s lower back, which can result in a fracture of the vertebral arch (spondylolysis). Spondylolysis can cause a player to experience pain in their lower back, and these symptoms may be mistaken for a muscle sprain. If left untreated, the damaged vertebra may slip and press on adjacent nerves, causing back spasms and muscular cramping. Rest and physical therapy are often effective courses of treatment, but a player may need surgery to repair the damaged vertebra and steady the spine.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Pitching requires a lot of practice and power, which can place a great deal of strain on the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that work together to generate force and control the shoulder’s range of motion. Pitchers risk tearing their rotator cuff or suffering other shoulder injuries if they overwork their bodies by skipping rest days or not sticking to a suggested pitch count. Shoulder surgery is typically needed to restore function to a torn rotator cuff.
Rest and rehabilitation may be all you need to treat some baseball injuries, but more severe cases can require surgery. K. Mathew Warnock, MD specializes in sports medicine and orthopedic surgery. Due to his years of experience treating a range of patients, Dr. Warnock is well-versed in the injuries that baseball players experience. To schedule an appointment at our clinic, call 281-807-4380.