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

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

12 Powerful Pictures of Pittsburgh's Past, Present & Future

12 Powerful Pictures of Pittsburgh's Past, Present & Future

The images are not necessarily iconic, but they're just as revealing of the city's spirit.
Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

Pittsburgh-Area Fireworks: When & Where to Watch Them

You can get your fill of fireworks all weekend long, if you know where and when to look.
Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

Historic Opportunity: Pittsburgh's Oldest House for Sale

The home was built the same year George Washington won his second term in office.
Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Report: Penguins Try But Fail to Acquire Blackhawk's Brandon Saad

Instead, the Pittsburgh-area hockey phenom is headed to Columbus.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

City Guide: Terrific Things to Do in the 'Burgh and Beyond

The towns, neighborhoods, boroughs, main streets and small corners of western Pennsylvania that we call home -- and what we love about them.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Best of the 'Burgh 2015

Once again, our editors scour the city for 57 FRESH TAKES on our favorite things about Pittsburgh, including place to "get the boot," witness a nerd fantasy come to life, and snap a selfie with a furry.
Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Best of the 'Burgh 2015: Readers' Poll

Burger joints. Bar bands. Radio hosts. Here's the most popular stuff in town.
Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

Brewed in the 'Burgh, the Evolution of Our City's Brewpubs

A long-awaited update to Pennsylvania's beer-selling law prompted change to the region's brewpub scene.
PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl: A Feminist with Killer Shoes, Hear Her Rawr

PittGirl takes a history lesson in feminism, prompted by her daughter's love of dinosaurs.
Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

Chic Summer Fashion: Get Ready for the Haute Wave

These summertime looks sourced from Lawrenceville shops will keep you feeling cool and stylish.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit Module