How to Treat Common Injuries in Baseball

Article featured on NY Orthopedics

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 & 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.

New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.