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Pitcher's Elbow

Pitcher's elbow pain Chiropractic Basalt Aspen Carbondale

What is Pitcher's Elbow?

Pitcher's elbow, also known as medial epicondylitis, is a condition that affects the inside of the elbow. It is typically caused by overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, particularly in activities such as pitching in baseball. The repetitive stress placed on the elbow joint can lead to microtears in the tendons, resulting in pain and inflammation.

Definition of pitcher's elbow

Pitcher's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, refers to the inflammation of the tendons on the inside of the elbow. It is a common overuse injury among baseball pitchers and other athletes who frequently perform throwing motions.

Causes of pitcher's elbow

The primary cause of pitcher's elbow is overuse of the forearm muscles and tendons, especially in activities that involve repetitive throwing or pitching. This can strain the tendons, leading to microtears and subsequent inflammation.

Symptoms of pitcher's elbow

Symptoms of pitcher's elbow include pain and tenderness on the inside of the elbow, weakened grip strength, stiffness, and difficulty fully extending the forearm. These symptoms can impact a pitcher's performance and overall quality of life.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help Pitcher's Elbow

Chiropractic care offers non-invasive and effective treatment options for pitcher's elbow. Chiropractors are trained to address musculoskeletal issues, including those related to the elbow joint and surrounding soft tissues.

Chiropractic treatment options for pitcher's elbow

Chiropractic treatment for pitcher's elbow may include spinal and elbow joint adjustments, soft tissue mobilization, and rehabilitation exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the affected muscles and tendons. These techniques aim to reduce pain and promote healing.

Benefits of chiropractic care for pitcher's elbow

Chiropractic care can provide pain relief, reduce inflammation, and facilitate the natural healing process of the injured ligaments and tendons in the elbow. Additionally, chiropractors can offer guidance on ergonomics and proper pitching mechanics to prevent future injuries.

Role of chiropractor in treating pitcher's elbow

Chiropractors play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating pitcher's elbow. They assess the underlying causes of the condition, develop personalized treatment plans, and provide ongoing support to help baseball pitchers recover and return to their sport safely.

Preventing Pitcher's Elbow in Little League Players

Young baseball players, particularly those in little league, are susceptible to overuse injuries such as little league elbow. Chiropractic strategies can play a significant role in preventing and addressing these concerns.

Risk factors for little league elbow

Risk factors for little league elbow include pitching too frequently, using improper pitching mechanics, and insufficient rest between games or training sessions. Without proper intervention, these factors can lead to chronic elbow issues.

Chiropractic strategies to help prevent little league elbow

Chiropractors can educate little league players and their coaches on proper warm-up techniques, pitching form, and the importance of scheduling adequate rest periods. They can also provide guidance on strength and conditioning exercises to support healthy elbow function.

Importance of early intervention for little league elbow

Early intervention is crucial in addressing little league elbow and preventing long-term consequences. Chiropractors can identify potential risk factors and provide young athletes with the tools and knowledge to protect their elbows and maintain their overall musculoskeletal health.

Treating Elbow Pain in Baseball Pitchers with Chiropractic Care

Elbow pain is a common issue experienced by baseball pitchers due to the repetitive and high-impact nature of their sport. Chiropractic care offers effective techniques for managing and alleviating this type of pain.

Common elbow injuries in baseball pitchers

Baseball pitchers frequently experience a range of elbow injuries, including UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) strains or tears, flexor tendon issues, and general overuse injuries related to the throwing motion. These conditions can cause significant discomfort and affect a pitcher's ability to perform.

Chiropractic techniques for managing elbow pain in pitchers

Chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapies can target the specific areas of discomfort in a pitcher's elbow. By addressing joint misalignments and promoting circulation to the affected tissues, chiropractors can alleviate pain and support the body's natural healing processes.

Long-term benefits of chiropractic care for baseball pitchers

Chiropractic care aims to not only provide immediate relief from elbow pain but also to address the underlying issues contributing to the discomfort. By restoring musculoskeletal balance and function, pitchers can experience long-term improvements in their performance and overall musculoskeletal health.

Chiropractic Techniques for Medial and Lateral Epicondylitis

Medial and lateral epicondylitis, commonly referred to as golfer's and tennis elbow, can affect pitchers and impact their ability to throw with power and precision. Chiropractic methods are effective in managing these conditions.

Chiropractic approach to medial epicondylitis

Chiropractors address medial epicondylitis by employing techniques such as joint adjustments, soft tissue mobilization, and therapeutic exercises. These methods focus on reducing inflammation and restoring proper function to the affected tendons and ligaments.

Chiropractic methods for treating lateral epicondylitis

For lateral epicondylitis, chiropractic care may involve targeted adjustments to the elbow joint, along with rehabilitative exercises to strengthen the forearm muscles and improve flexibility. These approaches support pain reduction and facilitate the healing process.

Rehabilitation exercises for epicondylitis in pitchers

Chiropractors can guide pitchers through specific rehabilitation exercises designed to promote healing and prevent future episodes of epicondylitis. These exercises focus on enhancing strength, flexibility, and overall resilience of the elbow joint and associated structures.

Pitcher's elbow or Little League elbow?

The bases are loaded. You've thrown two strikes and you're on the pitcher's mound. You wind up, and… the inside of your elbow is killing you. Pitcher's elbow is a common condition, especially in young baseball players whose bones aren't fully developed. It's an “overuse” injury caused by repeatedly pitching overhand, whether at practice or during games, without giving your throwing arm enough time to rest and recover.

This condition, like tennis elbow, is a form of elbow tendonitis. The biggest difference between the two is that pitcher's elbow affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow while a tennis elbow affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow. Pitcher's elbow usually develops gradually, causing tenderness, pain, and swelling on the inside of the elbow. It reduces your range of motion and could prevent you from playing. In addition, the elbow can become “locked.” Fortunately, chiropractic care can help alleviate the stresses contributing to the pain so your arm can heal naturally, without medication or surgery.

Pitcher's elbow vs Tennis Elbow Chiropractic Basalt Aspen Carbondale

What's Going On in Pitcher's Elbow

The elbow is an impressive structure. It's both a hinge and a pivot joint: the hinge bends and straightens your arm while the pivot lets it rotate. The elbow trades off its versatility for vulnerability to injury. Here's an overview of the structures that make up your elbow:

  • Humerus: the end of the upper arm bone
  • Radius: forearm bone that runs on the lateral (thumb) side of the arm
  • Ulna: forearm bone that runs along the medial (little finger) side of the arm

All these bones are moved and supported by muscles, ligaments, and tendons, any of which can become irritated and inflamed. A common problem is flexor tendonitis—inflammation in the tendons where they attach to the humerus on the inner part of your elbow. It makes throwing painful and, if the inflammation is severe, it will hurt even when you're resting.

Playing through an injury is not recommended and can make things far worse.

In some extreme situations when there is tearing of the ligament, “Tommy John surgery” (named after a baseball player in the 1970's) may be required. In this procedure, another ligament in the body is used to replace the injured elbow ligament.

There is another option, though, if you have pitcher's elbow: chiropractic care.

How Chiropractors Treat Pitcher's Elbow

Chiropractors use non-invasive, safe techniques to treat pitcher's elbow rather than prescribing pain medication or recommending surgery. These include:

A series of chiropractic treatments is often needed to treat pitcher's elbow. During this period, it's important to rest your arm and not try to pitch until you're cleared to do so. You should return to practice and play gradually. You can also ice your elbow at home, 20 minutes on and one hour off, or as advised. Your chiropractor can also recommend exercises you can do at home to regain strength and flexibility.

To prevent further injury to your elbow, follow these tips:

  • Do a light general warm-up before pitching
  • Slowly stretch your muscles before pitching
  • Don't overdo it by playing in too many games
  • Practice good pitching technique

After recovery from pitcher's elbow, consult with an expert who can show you the mechanics of correct throwing, which will reduce the chance of another injury. Prevention is always best, but if you do start to feel pain in the inner part of your elbow, consider calling a chiropractor. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can get back on the field.

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Dr. James Fraser

Doctor of Chiropractic