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.

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.

The 412

Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

The homegrown race series wraps up on Sunday at Ohiopyle State Park.
Local Developer Creates Pittsburghese Plugin for Google Chrome

Local Developer Creates Pittsburghese Plugin for Google Chrome

Have a little fun as you search the Web.
Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

Pittsburgher Ali Spagnola Releases an App Version of Her 'Power Hour' Album

The creator of the app — which takes any playlist on your smartphone or tablet and plays it in one-minute pieces — reminds users to please drink responsibly.
NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

NPR Blog Team Tries, Critiques Primanti Bros. Sandwich

The group behind the station's Sandwich Monday blog series orders the iconic sandwich and writes a review.

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

Why Things Get Squirrely Near the Tunnels

PittGirl doesn't know why we say "warsh" — but she has figured out why we 'Burghers hit the brakes at the sight of the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.
40 Under 40: 2014

40 Under 40: 2014

In their own ways, the 40 men and women we introduce here show us daily how we can ensure that Pittsburgh is deserving of its Most Livable City title.