Pitcher’s Elbow: Causes, symptoms and Treatment

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A player who suffers from Pitcher’s Elbow

Introduction

Are you putting up with a funny bone pain? Quite tormenting in the inside of the elbow topped with some swelling while the outside looks perfectly fine, right? Well, the condition is termed as ‘Pitcher’s Elbow’ and is popular among baseball players. There must be several questions popping up in your head now. For instance, how can baseball be a prime reason for internal swelling of the elbow? Well, baseball is a type of action sports that involves too much of pitching or throwing activities. The constant repetitive motions cast a not-so-good impact on the elbow. Tendons and ligaments running along the inner elbow undergo frequent stretching and pulling. This certainly paves way for inflammation and soreness in the elbow. Consequence? It restricts the range of motion for an individual and causes too much pain.

By now it is clear that elbow injury is a common aftermath for young baseball pitchers. Continual overhead throwing creates high stress on the elbow, limiting motions and affecting performance. When the injury is significantly caused due to optimized stress is borne by the tendons, it is termed as ‘medial epicondylitis’. Getting the condition diagnosed early is extremely crucial. Bear in mind, the condition if left untreated can aggravate and yet riskier consequences like ‘Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL)’ can shoot up.
Wondering what that means? It is the name given to a condition where the ligament can completely wear off, cutting down velocity by leaps and bounds. Let’s delve into the major causes of the condition and understand what to stay clear off.

Pitcher’s Elbow – Prime Causes

Did you know that there is a growth plate fitted inside the throwing elbow?
Playing baseball is not a cakewalk. The game demands activities like hurling and throwing the ball repeatedly. This causes a grisly impact on the growth plate. It swells up and is accompanied by pain. If not everyone, young players are more prone to the risk of experiencing the awful impacts of Pitcher’s elbow. Thinking why? Well, because the elbow joint in young players are not completely developed. From the growth plate to bones and ligaments, each part of the elbow joint needs more development which happens naturally with age.

Other causes include:

  1. Pitching more games than allowed – Every player needs to abide by a set of pitch count rulebook. Overuse in pitching baseballs lends to elbow injury. There’s a pitch count limit for every player that needs to be monitored carefully. If pain springs up before the pitch count limit is touched, the player must put a halt to his activities right-away.
    Stick to games demanding rotating pitchers. This is a smart and effective way, assuring enough rest to every player.
  2. Getting versed in the mechanics – There’s a reason why coaches exist when it comes to any sport. For baseball, it is crucial to learn about the throwing mechanics.
    If overwhelming force is put to throw the ball, it not only highlights improper mechanics but causes stress on the elbow joints too. This works like a welcome card to unwanted injuries around the elbow area.
  3. Throwing curveballs – Of course, a good trick to stay ahead in the game but dealing with breaking pitches and curveballs demand intense energy. This obviously exerts a lot of pressure on the growth plate and abates velocity if done too much. Therefore, it should very well be monitored that the count of throwing curveballs should be limited, especially for youngsters aged between 9 to 14.

What are the symptoms of Pitcher’s Elbow noted?

  • Excruciating pain on the inside of the elbow.
  • When the condition aggravates, one might also feel a sense of tear within.
  • The joints might feel locked.
  • Limited motion wherein the person might feel difficult to move the elbow.

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must drop by a certified professional and get the condition treated quick.

Treatment Measures:

Since this annoying elbow condition shoots up as an aftermath of repetitive motion, it is imperative that rest is the best-proven solution. This helps soothe inflammation and cut-down the impacts of Pitcher’s Elbow. Doctors might prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs that are non-steroidal or simple ice-compress to slacken inflammation quick. However, there are other treatment options prescribed to speed up recovery. It includes:

  1. Switching to a physical therapist – By now, we are all schooled that Pitcher’s elbow limits motions, right? Well, a good physical therapist works well in helping the patient restore mobility in their elbow joints. Of course, the inflammation part is well worked upon. When youngsters are targeted with such elbow joint injuries, the therapist shares tips to help nip the bud and prevent the occurrence of these painful symptoms further. Different forms of strengthening exercises are recommended. In a nutshell, individual treatment plans are charted depending on the need of the patient. These plans are solely dedicated to improving flexibility, motion, and strength in an individual putting up with Pitcher’s elbow. A therapist can also monitor throwing motions of the player. If abnormalities are noted using techniques like video analysis, proper mechanics are taught to optimize performance.
  2. Regenerative Injections – This can be described as a cutting-edge innovation in medical science. Regenerative injections are injected into the patients stem cells.
    This works wonders in helping the tissues heal in a very quick amount of time.
  3. Surgery – The option ranks as the ultimate form of treatment when the condition worsens. Further named as UCL reconstruction or Tommy John Surgery, it is an effective way to treat Pitcher’s Elbow.

Pitcher’s Elbow pops up when the elbow joints are affected. Hence, the best way to stay clear of the painful condition is to learn about the preventive ways. Spruce up your flexibility and undergo strengthening exercises. Also, invest time in learning about the proper mechanics of throwing. Adhering to these tips will not only help you avoid being a target of Pitcher’s Elbow but also make you a star performer.