Inner elbow pain


#1

About 4 years ago, when I was 14 years old, I pitched on a little league team within my city. The entire season was great, I had no pain whatsoever in my inner elbow. I could throw curves, yes I got through puberty already, with no pain at all. All of the sudden, in the last game of the season, the pain hit me like a train. It was unbearable, even lifting up my arm was a challenge. Note–I do not attribute the pain to the curve because this had happened before, just not while I was pitching

I ended up going to see my doctor, who sent me to an orthopedic doctor, one that specializes in sports injury. He said that I just overstressed my arm by throwing, either too hard, or too much. He sent me to physical therapy, in which I worked on building up the muscles around my elbow and shoulders. This caused temporary healing, as the next summer came around, the same thing happened. However this time it was those long throws from short to first. I ended up riding the pine with the other kids who had the same problem. It was a long season to say the least.

After that I took two years off from baseball, except for the occasional Wiffle ball game. This past summer I started building up my arm just by throwing. I can now throw over 200 feet (not a small task with my small frame) with no pain.

However…the question still lingers, what really happened to my arm those years ago, and how do I prevent this from happening again?


#2

APR,

This is just speculation, but here’s my theory of what might have happened based on the facts you have provided.

The first, but less likely, option is that you partially pulled the Medial Epicondyle (the bony bump on the inside of your elbow) off of the Humerus bone at the growth plate. I say partially because I assume that the ortho would have noticed if you had pulled the ME entirely off the Humerus.

The second, and more likely, option is that you experienced a significant tear of one of the tendons or ligaments in your elbow (I assume that’s where you felt the pain). You likely had already damaged it and the pain you felt may have been a significant additional portion of it tearing.

In either case, you did exactly the right thing by taking the two years off (and I emphasize YEARS). That gave your body the time it needed to repair the damage that took place (it can take months or years for the body to repair a significant injury to a tendon or ligament).

Unfortunately, you experience also illustrates how little knowledge many people in the sports medecine business have of the physiology of pitching.

Hope that helps.


#3

Thanks for the quick reply Chris.

You are right that I felt the pain near the tendons and ligaments. I think this because it felt so heavy when I tried to bend my elbow at all, which relates directly to the tendons and ligaments that make it move. Also, I have injured a growth plate before, but it was not the same pain that I experienced here.

My other question…how can I prevent this from happening again? Is it just mechanics? Or is it strength related?


#4

Given that you are 18, and the growth plate in your elbow has most likely closed, then some light strength training should help. You don’t have to do 20 lb curls. Just working with 1, 2.5, and 5 pound wrist weights (not barbells) should be enough.

What happened likely is related to a combination of your (young) age at the time, overuse, and mechanics.

I recently put together an article that discusses some mechanical tweaks that I believe will reduce the risk that you will injure your elbow…


#5

Given that you are 18, and the growth plate in your elbow has most likely closed, then some light strength training should help. You don’t have to do 20 lb curls. Just working with 1, 2.5, and 5 pound wrist weights (not barbells) should be enough.[/quote]

When I throw or on the side as a light routine?


#6

This is a training exercise for “dry throwing”.

Put on the weights and pretend to throw at perhaps only 50 to 75 percent of your full velocity. The idea is to strengthen your arm to throw using your standard motion.


#7

most inner elbow pain, over 9/10 people with elbow pain comes from tightness in shoulders. Id you want to get rid of it, it will take some time, and maybe even shutting down throwin forma few weeks, but you must stretch. Stretch again, and then stretch some more. Also, the exersizes on thecompletepitcher.com are great.


#8

I have never seen a scientific study that suggests that this is the case.

Instead, most inner elbow pain is related to the rapid extension of the elbow and the stress that puts on the attachment points of the ligaments and tendons that must resist that stress.

Also, while I am a huge believer in warming up (e.g. long toss with gradually increasing distances over the course of the session), I am generally not a fan of stretching. By stretching, I am referring to exercises that are designed to alter the stability of a joint by loosening up the ligaments that hold that joint together. I have seen a number of studies that suggest that that is a bad thing to do.