Is Throwing and Catching a Baseball Stressful?

We asked Dr. Mark Baratz, director of the Division of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery and vice chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Allegheny General Hospital, to answer one of your health questions.



Q: What types of stresses are caused to the hand, wrist or arm when throwing and catching a baseball?

A: Throwing a baseball involves a complex interaction of movements that take place (with great force) within a split second. As a result, injuries can occur to the shoulder or elbow. Catching a baseball can result in injury to the fingers, wrist or hand, particularly with bare-handed and diving catches.

While throwing, strain on the shoulder can cause the bumper that lines the cup of the shoulder joint to tear away from the bone. These labral tears are common and often require surgery. Tears of the rotator cuff are less common but can lead to significant problems and, oftentimes, require surgery as well.

The throwing motion also places high stress on the elbow, risking injury to the ulnar collateral ligament, a small ligament on the inside of the elbow. If rest and exercise are unsuccessful, an elite athlete may have to undergo rebuilding of this ligament and have a procedure known as “Tommy John Surgery.”

The same stresses that stretch the ligament also force together two bones located on the outside of the elbow. When rest is unsuccessful, arthroscopic surgery of the elbow may be necessary.

Falling on the palm in the midst of a diving catch can lead to fracture of a small bone called the hook of the hamate; this fracture can irritate adjacent tendons and is best treated by removing the small bone fragment. A bare-handed catch that strikes the tip of the finger can result in fracture or tendon injury. These injuries should, in all cases, be evaluated by a physician who specializes in handcare.
 


Submit your own health question for our Top Doctors. Your question might be included in an upcoming Top Docs Q&A.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Family-run farms adapt in multiple ways in order to thrive in western Pennsylvania.
Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg Brown knows anything is possible for his beloved Buccos. His career has had its share of surprise turns as well.
Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere make SMOKE barbeque taqueria one of Pittsburgh's go-to restaurants.
Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi is determined to make the Panthers believe in themselves and their program.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Taking Over: Brit Boy Band Boots Actress from Hotel Room

Taking Over: Brit Boy Band Boots Actress from Hotel Room

Eliza Dushku cheekily posted to Instagram when One Direction and their entourage forced her to make other lodging arrangements.
Arcade Heaven: Where Pinball and Pac-Man are Preserved

Arcade Heaven: Where Pinball and Pac-Man are Preserved

Fortunately, the Pennsylvania Coin Operated Gaming Hall of Fame and Museum is not a stuffy, hands-off collection of antiques.
Pittsburghers Mobilize to Rescue Popular Pizza Shop

Pittsburghers Mobilize to Rescue Popular Pizza Shop

In a span of just a few days, Spak Bros. has endured a burglary, an equipment failure and a social-media hack.
You Might Want This Newly Signed Penguin to Read to Your Kids

You Might Want This Newly Signed Penguin to Read to Your Kids

The newest member of the Pittsburgh Penguins has an unusual side-gig.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Growing Their Own Way: Inside 4 Pittsburgh Family Farms

Family-run farms adapt in multiple ways in order to thrive in western Pennsylvania.
Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Loud & Proud: In the Booth with Voice of the Pittsburgh Pirates

Greg Brown knows anything is possible for his beloved Buccos. His career has had its share of surprise turns as well.
Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Flavorful Tacos are Main Attraction at Lawrenceville's SMOKE

Reasonable prices and a lively atmosphere make SMOKE barbeque taqueria one of Pittsburgh's go-to restaurants.
Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Belief and (Tough) Love Drives Pitt's New Football Coach

Pitt football head coach Pat Narduzzi is determined to make the Panthers believe in themselves and their program.
PittGirl's Reliable & Delightful Crash Course on Pittsburgh

PittGirl's Reliable & Delightful Crash Course on Pittsburgh

She shares the truth about everything from driving technique to Terrible Towel etiquette for anyone new to the 'Burgh.
Top Dentists 2015

Top Dentists 2015

The Pittsburgh region's 346 premier dentists in 9 specialties.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module