Pitcher’s elbow is one of the most common baseball injuries. It results from repetitive stress on the elbow joint, leading to inflammation and pain. It can be debilitating for pitchers, making it difficult to throw with power and accuracy. Contrary to its name, the condition isn’t limited to athletes. Anyone making repetitive movements with their elbow can develop this condition. Fortunately, a few treatment options are available for patients with pitcher’s elbow.
Non-Surgical Treatment Options
Non-surgical treatment options for pitcher’s elbow focus on reducing inflammation and pain. Some examples are:
The R.I.C.E. method is a common treatment for many types of injuries. It stands for:
- Rest – Rest the elbow joint to allow it to heal, and avoid activities that put stress on the elbow, such as pitching.
- Ice – Ice can be applied to the elbow for 20 minutes several times a day to reduce inflammation and pain.
- Compression – You can use a compression bandage to help reduce swelling.
- Elevation – Keep the elbow elevated above heart to decrease swelling.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs can help reduce inflammation and pain, and you should take them according to the package directions. If you’re taking other medications, talk to your doctor before taking NSAIDs, as they can interact with other drugs.
Physical therapy can help improve your range of motion and strength. A physical therapist can also teach exercises that can help prevent further injury. Additionally, your therapist may use modalities like:
- Ultrasound therapy – uses sound waves to create heat that helps reduce inflammation and pain
- Electrical stimulation – sends electrical current to the muscles to reduce pain
- Massage – improves circulation and reduces pain and inflammation
Your provider may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation for a few months at a time.
Surgical Treatment Options
Doctors usually only recommend surgery if conservative treatments do not successfully relieve symptoms. Surgical procedures are typically only considered for professional athletes who need to return to their sport. Your provider will recommend an operation based on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.
Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that uses tiny incisions about the size of a buttonhole. Your surgeon will use an arthroscope instrument with a camera at the end to look inside the elbow joint and repair any damage. Compared to open surgery, arthroscopy involves a shorter recovery time and less pain.
Depending on the severity of the injury, your provider may perform a debridement or an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction. Debridement is the removal of damaged tissue. Your surgeon can do this by using a laser or making tiny cuts with a scalpel. After removing the damaged tissue, they will connect the ends of the healthy tendon.
On the other hand, UCL reconstruction replaces the damaged tendon with a graft. The UCL stabilizes the elbow joint, and a graft is a tendon harvested from another part of your body. Doctors usually get the replacement tendon from the wrist or hamstring.
Recovery from surgery will take several months. You will likely need to wear a splint or sling for the first few weeks. Then, you may start physical therapy to help you regain better range of motion and strength. It may take up to a year before you can return to your previous activities, so don’t rush your recovery.
You can talk to your physical therapist about a throwing program if you’re an athlete. This program will help you gradually return to throwing without causing further injury. Your therapist can also teach you ways to avoid future injuries, like:
- Warming up before pitching helps increase blood flow and loosen up muscles.
- Stretching the muscles and tendons around the elbow helps reduce the risk of injury.
- Proper pitching mechanics help avoid putting too much stress on the elbow joint.
- Pitching often can put too much stress on the elbow and lead to injury. Take breaks between pitching sessions to allow the muscles and tendons to recover.
Pitcher’s Elbow Treatment In Ellicott City, MD
Your provider can treat pitcher’s elbow using various methods, depending on the severity of the injury. R.I.C.E., NSAIDs, physical therapy, and corticosteroid injections are often effective for mild to moderate cases. If these methods don’t work, surgery may be an option. Talk to your doctor about which treatment option is best for you.
Look no further than The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics if you need pitcher’s elbow treatment in Ellicott City, MD. You may call us today at (410) 644-1880 if you want to learn about our services. You may also fill out our appointment request form to book a consultation.
We look forward to serving you!