It looks like baseball may be starting up soon for both the major leagues and for amateur players everywhere else of all ages. With baseball play, injuries can happen -- from the little leagues to the majors -- so it’s important to be aware of potential injuries and know when your situation is serious or not. Here’s a few of the most common baseball injuries to help you remain aware:
Rotator Cuff Tears
Rotator cuff tears are very common in baseball players, particularly pitchers. The rotator cuff are muscles and tendons that come together to form a covering around the upper arm bone. Repetitive shoulder motions, such as baseball pitching, can cause rotator cuff tears. Sometimes these tears will heal themselves with rest, but many times they do not. Rotator cuff tears can cause pain whenever pressure is put on the shoulder, especially if you are a side sleeper on the side that is affected. Lifting may also be painful. Rotator cuff tears require immediate attention with an orthopedic surgeon, who will prescribe a treatment program that sometimes includes surgery.
The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is another injury commonly suffered by baseball pitchers. The UCL acts as a stabilizer for the elbow, preventing the joint from bending sideways, and is often stressed with repetitive throwing motions. A UCL injury can cause pain and tenderness on the inner portion of the elbow. The elbow may feel stiff, making it difficult to fully straighten the arm. In some cases, a UCL injury can cause numbness or tingling in the ring and little finger, and gripping strength may be affected. In some cases, a UCL injury can be treated with nonsurgical methods. However, if elbow instability continues, surgery may be needed.
ACL and MCL Knee Injuries
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL) are two of the ligaments that help to stabilize the knee. Knee injuries can happen when pivoting, stretching or running then accidently twisting the knee as the foot is planted. ACL and MCL injuries often cause sudden, severe pain; a loud popping or snapping sensation may be felt as the injury happens. There may also be swelling and a feeling of looseness in the joint, and it may be difficult to put weight on the knee without severe pain. Mild ACL and MCL injuries can heal with nonsurgical methods, including injections provided by the orthopedic surgeon. However, if the ACL or MCL is torn, surgery is likely needed to rebuild the ligament.