We are approaching the season when the gridiron takes center stage alongside other fall sports like volleyball, tennis and cross country. As we become active and performing at our peak performance, injuries lurk around the corner. The elbow is one of the most common areas of the body that athletes experience an injury. Elbow injuries can hinder more than our ability to perform. These injuries can affect how we live our daily lives. Check out four common elbow injuries in sports to pay attention to heading into the fall sports season.
Elbow Injuries in Sports
The most common reason for elbow injuries in sports is overuse. Some sports injuries of the elbow affect the extensor tendon on the outside of the elbow, while others affect the tendon on the inside of the elbow. Listed below are four common elbow injuries that athletes experience.
Also known as cubital tunnel syndrome, the injured party will suffer from inflammation of the ulnar nerve in the arm that results in numbness or weakness in the hand, leading to a weakened grip or lack of finger coordination. This condition is caused by activities that place constant pressure against the ulnar nerve or repeated motion at the elbow or wrist. The ulnar nerve, most commonly known as the “funny bone,” is one of three primary nerves in your arm and travels down the arm to your pinky. If the nerve has been compressed for a significant amount of time or is severe, it can lead to muscle atrophy that is irreversible. Therefore, you should see a doctor if your symptoms are critical or the problem persists for more than five weeks.
Valgus Extension Overload (VEO)
Commonly referred to as “pitcher’s elbow,” athletes will experience inflammation and pain at the point of contact where the humerus meets the radius and ulna. Pitcher’s elbow is the result of repetitive movements causing the protective cartilage on the olecranon bone in your elbow to wear away over time. This will cause bone spurs that need treatment to prevent further damage. There are surgical and non-surgical treatment options available.
Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Tears
One of the commonly-known elbow injuries in sports, specifically volleyball and baseball, is a UCL tear. UCL tears typically result in Tommy John surgery, named after a baseball pitcher that received the first procedure of its kind in 1974. Typically feeling like a “pop,” or pain on the inside of the elbow, UCL tears can occur from overuse or traumatically if you fall on your outstretched arm. These injuries are painful and have a longer recovery period than other elbow injuries. It is common to receive surgery for UCL tears, but non-surgical options are available.
Often referred to as “tennis elbow,” common symptoms are muscle weakness and pain. Tennis elbow is likely caused by overusing the forearm but can also result from banging or knocking your elbow. There are many treatment options, and only in very severe cases is surgery necessary.
New Surgeon Joining Lake Pointe Orthopaedics
Lake Pointe Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, has been serving the orthopedic needs of their community for over 25 years. We are happy to announce that Dr. Jonathan Boyle, MD, will be joining the staff. He is a hand, wrist, and elbow specialist and will start seeing patients on October 1. Just in time for him to assist in the case of elbow injuries in sports this fall. Call today and setup a consultation with Dr. Boyle to collaborate with you to end your elbow discomfort!