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What is Pitcher’s Elbow?

Pitcher’s Elbow, also known as medial epicondyle apophysitis, is a common injury that occurs among young baseball players. Pitcher’s Elbow is a condition referring to the inflammation or laxity of the medial collateral ligament that connects the humerus to the ulna.

Most commonly, pitcher’s elbow presents as pain on the inside of the elbow. It is most often a result of chronic overuse, but it can also be a result of an acute injury with a pop or tear sensation.

Characteristics and Clinical Presentation

Pitcher’s elbow presents as pain on the inside of the elbow. It is most often a result of chronic overuse, but it can also be a result of an acute injury with a pop or tear sensation.

Patients may report that the elbow feels locked or stuck. It may limit one’s range of motion, which may cause it to be difficult to move. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Causes of Pitcher’s Elbow

Softball, golf, tennis, wrestling, and football are some of the most popular sports associated with this injury. Chronic overhand throwing can cause inflammation of the growth plate inside of the throwing elbow, resulting in this condition.

The following risk factors contribute to pitcher’s elbow:

  • Age: young baseball players are at greater risk because their bones, growth plates, and ligaments are not fully developed.
  • Pitching too many games: the number of games pitched should be carefully monitored.
  • Curveballs and breaking pitches: these types of pitches put more stress on the growth plate than other pitches.
  • Improper mechanics: improper throwing mechanics can put undue force on the elbow joint.

Treatment Options for Pitchers Elbow

Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and kinetic chain analysis are the first steps in treatment.  

Other treatments, such as Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections are also an option for patients who may benefit from more conservative treatments.  Arthroscopic surgery – sometimes with ligament reconstruction aka Tommy John Surgery – is required when conservative methods prove insufficient.

Nonsurgical Treatments for Pitchers Elbow

Allow the elbow to recover from inflammation by resting it. Conservative treatment options include ice and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Severe cases may require physical therapy, regenerative therapy, and, in some cases, surgical intervention.

Physical therapy is beneficial in treating pain and improving strength and mobility.

Surgical Treatment Options for Pitcher’s Elbow

Surgical intervention may be required in severe cases. UCL reconstruction — commonly called Tommy John Surgery — is used to correct pitcher’s elbow. In the event surgical intervention is required, physical therapy is recommended to regain mobility and range of motion.

Rehabilitation may take up to two years for athletes to return to their previous level of function. Recovery is dependent on the age of the patient and the severity of the injury.

If You Believe Your Child Could Have Pitchers Elbow, Contact HandSport Surgery Institute

Please contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment with our talented team. People experiencing pitcher’s elbow should be evaluated to try and prevent further injury and mobility issues.

If you have been injured, it’s important to be evaluated by a highly skilled professional. Call Drs. Mark and Jason Pruzansky at 212-249-8700 to schedule an appointment, obtain an accurate diagnosis, and start to restore comfort to your elbow.

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