First Common Injury: Rotator Cuff Tear - affects ball-and-socket joint
Definition and description: The rotator cuff is is made up of a group of tendons that connect the four muscles of the shoulder to the bone. The four muscles are the Supraspinatus muscle, the Infraspinatus muscle, the Subscapularis muscle, and the Teres minor muscle. These muscles connect to the scapula and the tendons then connect them to the humerus. The group of tendons and muscles allow the arm to move up and down and also allows it to rotate. When the rotator cuff is torn these movements are impossible. Usually, not being able to do these movements is a good indicator that the rotator cuff is torn and/or the symptoms of “SHARP” are occurring. (Swelling, Heat, Altered, Redness, Pain). This injury can happen overtime with age or there could be a sudden movement such as an angular motion when applying torque.
How to prevent the injury: To prevent ever tearing the rotator cuff you should be strengthening the four shoulder muscles over time. Since this injury is common in seniors they should avoid lifting objects over their head. It is very important to stretch the muscles before starting any regular activity.
What treatment is required? It is essential to not continue to use the shoulder a lot once you have a rotator cuff tear. Using the shoulder after this injury despite gradual pain may cause more damage. It is common for the year to get larger over time if not properly treated. For nonsurgical treatment follow the RICE steps (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Also, anti-inflammatory medication will help reduce healing time. In some cases, surgery may have to happen in order to recover. This option would be best if pain has not gone away after 6-12 months, if the tear is large(more than 3 cm), or if arm is unmovable.
Is there any rehabilitation required? Yes, after shoulder is free of pain strengthening exercises should begin right away. This will help the injury form not reoccuring again.
Where is this injury most likely to occur? This injury is very common in baseball. Many pitches with strong arms or “good” arms can eventually tear their rotator cuff due to the high demand of throwing a good pitch.
Second Common Injury: Tennis Elbow - Overuse Injury
Definition and description: Tennis elbow, otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis is a very painful condition that involves the tendons that attach to the bone on the lateral part of the elbow. The functions of the tendons is to attach the muscles to the bones. The main muscle involved in this condition is called the extensor carpi radialis brevis which function is to flex, extend, and support the movements of the wrist. Overuse of this muscle causes strain on the tendons which attach the muscle to the elbow. This causes pain in the area when the person is active. This injury is called tennis elbow because it has been a major issue in tennis but it also happens in many other sports that sometimes overuse the arm such as baseball.
How to prevent this injury: The main causes of this injury is overuse and trauma. To avoid either of these actions from happening the best thing to do is to stretch and strengthen the arm muscles so they can support the activities the person is doing. Also, when learning a new skill it is important to use the correct movements and techniques so this way no improper strain is being put on the muscles.
What treatment is required? There are a few ways to help the healing process of tennis elbow move a little faster and they are:
- Reducing activity
- Take anti-inflammatory medications
- Using a brace while in physical activity
- Shockwave therapy (last option before surgery)
In some cases the tendons around the elbow will tear and if they are big enough surgery is needed to put them back together. During the surgery the dead and non responsive tissue is removed.
Is there any rehabilitation required? Yes, recovering from surgery involves physical therapy in order for the muscles to gain their strength back and to help the arm with widening its range of motion. Rehabilitation may take about 4-6 weeks before returning to activities.
Third Common Injury: Spondylolsis
Definition and Description: This injury is a very common cause of lower back pain in baseball. This injury is a small stress fracture in one of the vertebrae that make up the spinal cord. Usually it in the fifth lumbar vertebrae in the spinal cord that is affected and sometimes the fourth. This condition causes so much pain that the athlete will stand improper for the duration of the sport and this can cause the vertebrae to slip out of place. This injury is called spondylolisthesis. If too much movement of the vertebrae takes place the bones will start to put pressure on the nerves and surgery will be necessary to fix this problem.
How to prevent the injury: This condition is not preventable mostly because people who have this back pain don't know that they are fractures but an athlete can take steps to reduce the risk of getting spondylosis. Keeping the lower back and abdominal muscles strong can help support the back and prevent more stress fractures. If an athlete has this condition it is important to stay active with sports that do not put stress on the back such as biking and swimming. If lower back pain does not go away see a doctor right away for medical attention. The earlier the treatment of spondylitis the better the outcome will be!
What treatment is required? The first steps of treating this injury would be to rest and allow for the fractures to heal and have the pain be reduced. Anti-inflammatory drugs are recommended to help reduce the swelling around the lower back which will subsequently lower the pain level. Some cases of spondylitis a back brace will be needed to shift the vertebrae back in place and help the healing process.
Is there any rehabilitation required? Yes, just like recovering from any other injury steps for strengthening the area affected should be taken before returning back to physical activity.