Common Baseball-Related Injuries

Baseball may be as American as apple pie, but digging into a slice of pie involves considerably less risk of injury than pitching and sliding into home plate. 

At Empire Physical Therapy and Athletic Rehabilitation, our physical therapists Paul LaRosa, MS, PT and Billy Reilly, MS, PT, have special experience treating ballfield injuries. Billy enjoys baseball himself and is the proud dad of a Little Leaguer, whose team he coaches. Paul also coaches youth baseball and is an avid athlete.

For these reasons, their practice is tailor-made for treating sports enthusiasts, as well as providing information about injury prevention.  

Strike three: You’re injured!

There’s nothing that can put a damper on your activities like an acute injury suffered while playing a favorite sport, and baseball is no exception. Players collide with each other and the ground, but they’re even more prone to certain repetitive movement injuries — primarily of the shoulder and elbow.

Baseball players tend to suffer from:

Overall shoulder instability/injury

Regardless of whether you’re a pitcher, a second baseman, or at bat, your shoulders take a beating during a game. We typically see shoulder tendinitis, torn rotator cuffs, and SLAP tears, or labral tears, which occur as a result of throwing a baseball with excessive force or sliding into a base head first. 

If shoulder instability of any type worsens, you can be at risk for complete shoulder dislocation or partial dislocation, otherwise known as subluxation. 

Rotator cuff injuries

Four muscles make up the rotator cuff and facilitate shoulder movement. Repeated overhead throwing, as in baseball, can lead to compression of your rotator cuff tendons in your shoulder joint, which causes pain and limited movement. 

If left untreated, serious tendinitis can develop that requires you to lay low and rest for a period that can last months. 

UCL elbow sprain 

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is on the inside of your elbow joint and stabilizes your throwing arm. As with most baseball injuries, overuse is often the culprit, and it's rampant in pitchers. 

You might have a UCL elbow sprain if you notice less control when you pitch, inner elbow pain, numbness, and a feeling of instability with your elbow. 

The UCL sprain and similar injuries are dubbed “Tommy John” injuries, so named because Tommy John, a renowned left-handed pitcher who played for multiple teams over an amazingly long, 26-season career received a revolutionary surgical reconstruction for his UCL problem. 

During Tommy John surgery, the surgeon places a tendon from another part of your body or a donor’s to serve as your new UCL. Physical therapy can help strengthen your arm and expand your range of motion after this surgery or if you have a Tommy John injury that stops short of requiring a surgical solution. 

Thrower’s elbow

Thrower’s elbow is a general term that describes multiple types of damage to a player’s elbow joint and their forearm, including muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone damage. Not surprisingly, it’s pitchers who are most likely to suffer from thrower’s elbow. 

Anterior cruciate ligament injuries

Though the injuries are relatively uncommon in baseball players, they can still suffer with anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) tears. This ligament connects your lower leg bone and your upper leg bone and enables you to bend and extend your knee, both crucial movements in baseball. 

Physical therapy for baseball players: preventive and treatment

Possibly the most important services that we provide our baseball-loving patients are educating them about how to prevent these common injuries and providing innovative treatments that, depending on your injury, include:

We also discuss surgery if it seems like that is the best option to treat your injury, but we’re here to provide services as you recover post-surgery. 

We’re your partners when it comes to heading off baseball injuries and providing highly customized care, including thorough assessments called Functional Movement Screens™ with the same physical therapist each time you visit us. 

Call our office to schedule a consultation or request one online. We continue to observe all COVID-related safety precautions in our office.

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