The Doctor Is In: Baseball injuries

(KPLR) – The ‘Doctor is In’ and, in observance of a huge day in the St. Louis calendar, OPENING DAY, we turn to orthopedics and talk about baseball injuries.

Dr. Sonny Saggar talks with Christine Buck about baseball and other sports-related injuries.

You can also connect with Dr. Saggar, the Medical Director at St. Louis Urgent Cares, and ask him any questions you like via:

Sonny Saggar MD

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1. What are the most common injuries seen in baseball players?
This covers a wide scope, but overall, there are two categories of injuries that we see in baseball players. Due to the repetitive nature of the sport, “wear and tear” or overuse injuries are the most common. In addition, the accidents that happen during games from the unpredictability of the sport, can vary significantly.

The classic injuries that are commonly talked about in baseball are the shoulder and elbow injuries, which typically occur in pitchers. Ulnar collateral ligament injuries are common elbow injuries, for which the Tommy John procedure is well known.

Pitchers place a lot of stress on their elbows due to the high torque on the elbow. The ligament can undergo wear and tear. Like with any body part, we can recover from use and activity with the appropriate rest. But in the cases of persistent activity without appropriate rest, there can be irreversible damage to the ligaments.

2. How do you treat shoulder and elbow injuries?
The treatment depends on the type of injury, but in cases of overuse syndromes such as tendinitis, rest and rehab are first steps in treatment. This involves decreasing the inflammation and pain around the joint, which can be done with medications, sometimes injections, and anti-inflammatory modalities. Physical therapy or rehab is very important in regaining full range of motion and strength before returning to play.

In worst case surgeries, surgery can be indicated in certain types of surgeries. The procedures vary significantly by the type of injury and problem, and so you should talk with your doctor about your options.

3. What are the signs and symptoms that I should look for in my child?
If a child complains of pain their arm that lasts more than a day after throwing, they should be evaluated by a physician. Also, a parent should monitor for any signs of swelling, bruising, limited motion of the arm or painful motion of the arm.

4. What are ways to avoid injury?
One is to make sure that the player gets appropriate rest. There are age-specific pitch counts and rest days that were created for little leaguers, but this applies to players of all levels. Making sure that one has the appropriate time to recuperate can minimize overstressing a joint, as well as avoiding situations (technique failure, etc) that can stem from muscle fatigue.

The second is to maintain appropriate strength of the foundational muscles. This includes the rotator cuff muscles, or scapular stabilizers, of the shoulder, as well as the core musculature of the torso. This support allows for greater throwing speed with less stress on the joints.

A proper warm up routine with stretching and strengthening exercises is important before beginning to throw. Learning the proper technique of throwing is also very important to minimize abnormal forces on the joints.

St. Louis Urgent Cares has 4 locations in St. Louis:

  • Downtown Urgent Care
  • Eureka Urgent Care
  • Creve Coeur Urgent Care
  • North City Urgent Care

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You can also connect with Dr. Saggar, the Medical Director at St. Louis Urgent Cares, and ask him any questions you like via:

Sonny Saggar MD

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