Baseball Players and Throwing Injuries

How to Avoid “Dead Arm” Syndrome

Overhand throwing places high stresses on the shoulder.  For a baseball pitcher, this stress occurs over and over and can lead to a range of overuse injuries.  Other athletes who are at risk for injuries caused by repetitive overhand motions include tennis players, volleyball players and some track and field athletes.

Pain can occur during or after the throwing motion.  This can impact performance such as causing a decrease in throwing velocity and accuracy.  Typically, the pain is the result of inflammation of the rotator cuff tendons in the shoulder.  If left untreated, this can lead to internal and external impingement, inflammation of the bursa space, tendonitis, and in extreme cases, a rotator cuff tear.

Shoulder pain can develop in both de-conditioned and conditioned athletes.  However, it is more likely to develop more rapidly in the de-conditioned athlete.  Pain and inflammation most commonly occurs due to general muscle weakness, excessive workouts, and practicing too hard and too long.

Initial treatment for should pain may include:

  • Cutting back on throwing for a brief period of time
  • Icing after throwing
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Occasional use of cortisone injections into the joint

Recovery time varies by athlete but requires patience on the part of the player and coach.

If these treatment approaches are not decreasing pain, your doctor should conduct a further evaluation.  It is a good idea to pursue all non-surgical options before surgery is considered.

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