What is a Throwing Injury?
Throwing injuries are common in athletes who participate in sports that often require repetitive overhead throwing. These include baseball, volleyball, tennis, and track and field.
Overhand throwing places a great amount of strain on the shoulder and elbow, leading to an acute or chronic injury or a progressive structural change.
Throwing Injuries in the Shoulder
The most common throwing injuries that affect the shoulder include superior labrum anterior to posterior (SLAP) tears, bicep tendinitis and tendon tears, rotator cuff tendinitis and tears, internal impingement, instability, glenohumeral internal rotation deficit, and scapular rotation dysfunction.
Throwing Injuries of the Elbow
Throwing injuries usually affect the inner part of the elbow. Some examples of these injuries include flexor tendonitis, ulnar collateral ligament injury, valgus extension overload, ulnar neuritis, and olecranon stress fracture.
Symptoms of a Throwing Injury
The symptoms of a throwing injury vary and depend on the affected site. But usually, people with a throwing injury, whether it affects the shoulder or the elbow, suffer from pain and weakness of the affected site. There may also be numbness or tingling sensation of the affected site and neighboring areas such as the forearm or hand.
Diagnosing a Throwing Injury
A throwing injury is diagnosed only after careful review of one’s medical history, thorough physical examination, and the result of imaging tests.
During the physical exam, the doctor will evaluate the affected site’s range of motion as well as its strength and stability. The affected area may be placed in different positions to determine if there is pain. In some cases, sensation and muscle strength will also be checked.
Depending on the results of the physical exam, the doctor may order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. These may include x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, and ultrasound.
How It Is Treated
Initially, a throwing injury is treated through nonsurgical methods.
Nonsurgical treatment options for throwing injury include activity modification, application of cold compress, anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, change of position, and cortisone injections.
Surgery is only recommended if there is no relief from symptoms after trying the nonsurgical treatment.
The type of injury to be performed will depend on several factors such as the type of injury, area affected, and the patient’s age.
Arthroscopy is a common surgical option for throwing injuries. In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision on the patient’s skin and inserts pencil-sized special instruments to repair the damaged tissues. The arthroscope is attached to a miniature television camera to enable the surgeon to see the interior of the affected site.