Baseball Players and Shoulder Injuries

Should pain is a common problem for baseball players. The throwing motion used in baseball is unnatural and causes great strain on throwing shoulders. Softball’s windmill motion, conversely, is a much more natural throwing motion, causing far less strain and allowing players to pitch far more often.

Our Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeons see a lot of patients with shoulder injuries. The Southern California climate allows for baseball to be played year-round, putting thousands of shoulders at risk for injury 12 months of the year — as opposed to just half the year in other more temperate areas of the country.

How Do Shoulder Injuries Occur?

The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint where the collar bone (clavicle), upper arm bone (humerus) and shoulder blade (scapula). The joint is stabilized by soft tissue, which includes static stabilizers like the shoulder capsule ligaments and labrum cartilage as well as dynamic stabilizers such as the rotator cuff muscles. These stabilizing elements work together to allow for a throwing motion. When some of these stabilizers are too loose or too tight, the balance is thrown off and tears can occur in the soft tissue.

The act of throwing a baseball is broken down into 5 parts:

  • 1. Wind up
  • 2. Cocking
  • 3. Acceleration
  • 4. Deceleration
  • 5. Follow-through

The shoulder ball (humeral head) fits loosely in the socket (glenoid), giving us all unrestricted movement in our shoulder joints. This does not come without a few drawbacks. While baseball players can bring their arms back as far as they want during the cocking stage and throw with great acceleration, this is all predicated on shoulder stability being maintained by a group of relatively weak soft tissue structures. As such, these ligaments and muscles are under tremendous stress during the act of throwing a baseball. Since pitchers throw with high or max velocity often in excess of 100 repetitions (pitches) during a game, this stress leads to a lot of shoulder injuries in the sport of baseball.

The most common types of serious shoulder injuries are as follows:

  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Torn labrum
  • Broken growth plates in the humerus for young players who are still growing

Common symptoms of a shoulder injury are a decrease in velocity, pain while throwing or after throwing, and the sensation of a shoulder that feels loose like it is coming out of the socket.

Ways You Can Avoid Shoulder Injuries in Pitchers

Since shoulder injuries are often caused by high stress for a high number of repetitions, the simplest solution is to decrease both of those factors. The first way to limit the chances of a shoulder injury is to avoid reaching a high pitch count. The second is to limit the throwing of curveballs and/or sliders because both pitches require additional strain. Both of these are especially important for young players with still-developing arms.

Even with these limitations, shoulder injuries can and will still occur. The best way to limit injuries to strains before they become full-blow tears or breaks is to keep an eye out for the symptoms. Baseball coaches of all levels need to be aware of the warning signs, which include (but are not limited to):

  • Velocity decrease
  • Loss of stamina
  • Poor throwing mechanics
  • Shoulder pain

If any of these symptoms occur, the best thing you can do is shut the pitcher down for a few weeks until the symptoms go away. If symptoms continue to persist, an orthopedist might recommend surgery as an option. The recovery time for shoulder surgery is usually about three months, but pitchers have an eight month-to-a-year recovery timeframe until they will regain their full shoulder strength and pitch velocity.

If you or your child has been experiencing shoulder pain before, after or during throwing exercises, contact the La Peer Department of Orthopedic Surgery & Sports Medicine today at (855) 360-9119 to schedule an examination.

Pain Reliever For The Knee

Researchers recently studied 54 clinical trials and found that injecting hyaluronic acid into the knee offers better pain relief than acetaminophen, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even steroids. Hyaluronic acid is a natural lubricant of the joint.

Hyaluronic acid, which essentially helps the skin retain moisture, has also been used as a pain reliever for those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.

Hyaluronic acid carries fewer and less severe side effects than some of the medications typically used to reduce pain caused by wear and tear in the knee.

In light of recent findings, the hyaluronic acid is now likely to be considered a legitimate option to other medications. It might have been used as a last resort in the past, but that is now likely to change.

If you are considering this treatment or would like to know more about knee related injuries and treatments, please give our Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeons a call at (855) 360-9119 or send an email to info@lapeerhealth.com.

Serious Injuries for Olympic Athletes

With the 30th Summer Olympic Games in London, England fast approaching, our Beverly Hills orthopedic surgeons at La Peer would like to point out some common injuries associated with Olympic athletes. By being aware of the potential consequences, you might be able to avoid one of these serious injuries:

Broken Bones

There is only so much strain that our bones are willing to handle, but athletes succeed by pushing those boundaries to their limit. As a consequence, bones break but not all bones break evenly. The difference between a small, hairline fracture and a gruesome dislocation could be the difference between being out of action for a few weeks or possibly the end of an Olympian’s illustrious career.

Ligament and Tendon Injuries

While your muscles grow and expand when you work out, your tendons and ligaments remain at about the same size. For Olympic athletes, with bodies under seemingly constant training and exercise, ligaments and tendons can sprain or tear at a moment’s notice. While some ligaments in the wrist or hand can be played through pain, an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tearor a torn Achilles tendon will likely keep an athlete out of competition for six months to a year.

Head Injuries

Concussions and traumatic brain injuries can end an athlete’s career in a moment. Not only that, lifetime of medical care might even be necessary because such an injury could take away brain function. Boxers are acutely affected by head injuries, in addition to athletes from both contact and non-contact sports. The best way to prevent a concussion or another brain injury is to wear a helmet.

Neck Injuries

Of the nearly 10,000 serious neck injuries in the U.S. each year, about 1,000 cases result from accidents during sports. Common injuries include strained or sprained cervical spines with symptoms ranging from tightness on one side of the neck to painor even reduced motion. More rare and serious injuries could result in temporary or permanent paralysis. This is why athletes that suffer high-energy trauma to the head or neck are treated on the assumption that a serious cervical spine injury or broken neck has occurred. If first responders or athletic trainers employ proper management on-scene and proper care can be administered, the long-term damage of a catastrophic injury might be limited.

If you have suffered any of the above injuries while playing sports, please schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedists by calling (855) 360-9119.