140,932 people are employed in the sports medicine industry in the United States alone. This isn’t too surprising considering the love Americans have for sports. Baseball is considered America’s pastime and ranks as the second most popular sport after Football.
Recognizing sports injuries and treating them quickly and efficiently is what keeps these sports America’s favorites. Many injuries involving baseball are caused by overuse and often occur in the elbow or shoulder because of the high amount of force with which they throw. Listed below are three common major, and minor, baseball injuries to be on the lookout for.
- Thrower’s elbow
Commonly found in pitchers, medial epicondylitis or thrower’s elbow is caused by the wrist and fingers making repeated forceful motions. This injury is characterized by pain in the inner elbow, elbow stiffness, wrist stiffness, and tingling in the fingers. On the other hand (or rather the other side of the elbow) is the lateral epicondylitis injury, otherwise known as Tennis elbow. This injury is similar to medial epicondylitis, but affects the outside of the elbow region and is characterized by pain and swelling.
Treatments for these injuries include resting the affected area, stretching, ice application, and physical therapy exercises. Depending on the intensity of the pain, the injured player may need to see a specialist such as a sports medicine physician.
- Torn rotator cuff
Because of the force with which baseball players throw the ball to one another, a torn rotator cuff is another common baseball injury. Caused by a tear in the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder due to overuse and repetitive throwing, a torn rotator cuff can be identified by an athlete’s shoulder pain, stiffness, weakness, and muscle loss in the area.
A torn rotator cuff may be more serious than a thrower’s elbow and therefore may result in the need for arthroscopic shoulder surgery in order to identify the tissue damage. If the injury isn’t serious, sports physical therapy may be able to help the injury heal. However, in the chance that the tissue is seriously damaged, a sports medicine physician may recommend shoulder surgery.
- Shoulder instability
Shoulder instability, also known as shoulder subluxation, is when the shoulder joint is partially dislocated. The symptoms of shoulder instability are more generalized such as pain in the shoulder area. However, other symptoms also include limited mobility of the shoulder, swelling, and the formation of a physical deformity.
A sports medicine physician will only recommend surgery in rare and extreme cases. Treatment for shoulder instability typically involves a splint, pain-relievers, visiting physical therapy clinics, and moving the bone back into place.
Because of the repetitive motion of the arms, wrists, elbows, and shoulders in baseball players, it’s important to be aware of any pain in these specified locations. Minor symptoms may be the cause of a greater injury which, if left untreated, may cause further pain and damage to the player and therefore their career. If you or a team member are suffering from arm, wrist, elbow, or shoulder pain consult your doctor or a sports medicine physician.