Throwing Injuries of the Elbow

Throwing injuries of the elbow are most often associated with sports, as the repetitive motions place high stress on the elbow joint. Gradually over time, the throwing motion can damage tissue and bone. They are often seen in young athletes, whose bones have not yet stopped growing.

Medial epicondylitis, also known as golfer’s elbow, results from overuse of the muscles and tendons of the forearm, which flex (bend) the wrist. Pain and inflammation is felt on the inner side of the elbow. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory medications, ice, rest, and stretching and strengthening programs. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Medial ulnar collateral ligament injuries are commonly associated with the throwing athlete. Repetitively throwing may sprain and tear the medial ulnar collateral ligament. Pain is located on the inner side of the elbow. Treatment options include stretching and strengthening exercises, rest, ice, the use of a sling, and anti-inflammatory medications. Complete tears of the ligament require  ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery, also known as Tommy John surgery.

Medial epicondyle apophysitis is the most common injury among youth baseball pitchers. It typically affecting pitchers between 9 and 14 years of age whose bones have not yet stopped growing. Medial epicondyle apophysitis is characterized by pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow. A person will also have difficulty extending the elbow. Treatment options include rest, ice pack compression, painkillers and physical therapy. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Osteochondritis Dissecans is a condition that develops in the joints, typically in children and adolescent athletes. Repetitively throwing may disrupt the blood supply to the cartilage, causing a small section of bone to separate or break loose completely. Symptoms include pain during physical activity, swelling, tenderness to touch, popping of the joints, weakness of the joint, and decreased movement/range of motion. Surgery may be necessary to remove any loose fragments or if conservative treatment options were not effective in the relief of pain and swelling.

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