Baseball, like all activities involving public gatherings, has been suspended during the 2020 season of the COVID-19. Now that the coronavirus pandemic is coming under some control, hopes are high that the major leagues will begin playing again, perhaps in July, but without the presence of fans.
Nonetheless, we are likely to see amateur and pick-up games begin sooner. Since the last thing anyone wants to happen during this period of continuing (though diminished) risk of contagion is an injury that necessitates a trip to the ER or Urgent Care. For this reason, it is important to understand how common baseball injuries occur and how best to prevent them.
It is also reassuring to know that Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, with several offices in Nassau, Suffolk, and Queens, has reopened for business and is the perfect place to seek diagnosis and treatment of any sports injury. For patients whose health status still makes them wary of entering medical facilities, we will continue to offer telemedicine consultations.
Below are some common baseball injuries, their symptoms and types of treatment:
Muscle Sprains and Strains
Muscles sprains and strains are among the most common injuries in all sports, including baseball. They result from overuse of muscles in the arms, legs, arms, or back. The difference between the two is that strains are the result of overstretched tendons, the fibrous bands that attach muscle to bone, and sprains are the result of overstretched ligaments, the fibrous bands that join one bone to another. Either injury is more severe if the tendon or ligament is partially or completely torn, rather than just overstretched.
Symptoms of strains and sprains usually include:
- Muscle spasms
- Pain and muscle weakness
- Bruising, swelling, and/or inflammation in the impacted area.
These injuries rarely require surgical intervention and so can be successfully diagnosed and fully treated at Long Island Spine.
Elbow Injury: Damage to the UCL
The job of the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) is to stabilize the elbow. It is heavily used during throwing and therefore it can be harmed during baseball. The primary job of the UCL is to prevent the elbow joint from bending sideways, so this ligament suffers repetitive stress when baseball players wind up and throw again and again.
UCL injury may result in the following symptoms:
- Pain and tenderness along the inner elbow
- Stiffness in the elbow
- Difficulty straightening the arm
- Numbness or tingling in the ring and little finger
- Weakened grip strength
At Long Island Spine, we are frequently able to treat UCL injuries with noninvasive methods.
Though we don’t often consider back pain when thinking of baseball injuries, both pitching a ball and swinging a baseball bat put pressure on the lower back. Sometimes, that stress may result in the stress fracture of a backbone (vertebra), particularly if there is a congenital weakness present. If the fractured vertebra is not promptly and properly treated, it may slip out of place, causing spasmodic nerve pain, a condition known as spondylolisthesis.
Spondylolysis causes pain that spreads across the lower back. At Long Island Spine, we are well-practiced in diagnosing and successfully treating the condition with innovative, and also complementary, treatments to prevent further damage.
Shoulder Injury: Rotator Cuff Tear
The rotator cuff is the area in the shoulder where muscles form a web of tendons that covers the head of the upper arm bone (the humerus). Rotator cuff tears quite commonly happen to baseball players of all positions, but are most prevalent among pitchers, who spend the bulk of their time throwing the ball. The repetitive shoulder motions of throwing a ball vigorously can result in worn tendons. Eventually, as the muscle tissue thins, a tear is much more likely to occur.
Rotator cuff tears cause the following symptoms:
- Pain when lying on the affected shoulder
- Pain when lifting or lowering the affected arm
- Weakness of the arm and shoulder
- Crepitus, a crackling sensation during movement
Minor rotator cuff tears are often treatable by the nonsurgical methods we use at Long Island Spine, as are other shoulder injuries, such as tendonitis, shoulder impingement, and subluxation (when the ball of the joint comes out of the socket). We are careful and accurate diagnosticians and have a history of successful treatment of shoulder injuries. If your rotator cuff tear is severe, and we feel that it can only be repaired by an operation, we will send you on to a well-respected shoulder surgeon.
Knee Injuries (ACL and MCL)
Two major ligaments assist in stabilizing the knee joint: the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the medial collateral ligament (MCL). Injuries to these ligaments typically occur when running bases, stopping suddenly while running, twisting your knee when your foot is planted on the ground, or landing when your knee is in a flexed position.
ACL and MCL injuries frequently result in:
- Sharp, severe pain
- Loud popping noise or snapping sensation
- Swelling of the knee
- Sensation of looseness in the joint
- Inability to put weight on the knee
Once we diagnose what type of knee injury you have suffered, we will be able to recommend the proper course of nonsurgical treatment. In more serious cases, if we feel a surgical procedure is required, we will refer you to a highly skilled knee surgeon.
Prompt Consultation with an Long Island Spine Specialist Helps Avoid Future Problems
Whenever this baseball season begins for your family and friends, it’s a good idea to warm up even before you get on the field to prepare your joints and muscles for the increased activity. Also, remember that our highly trained physiatrists are here to consult with about productive exercise regimens and to discuss any musculoskeletal problems you want to get under control before the first big (or small) game.
If, in spite of your best efforts, you suffer a baseball injury, make an appointment with us. We will focus first on conservative treatments to alleviate your pain and increase your mobility and range of motion. We are experts at administering noninvasive treatments like targeted physical therapy, injections to reduce inflammation and pain and lubricate joints, lubricating gel injections to ease joint movement, and PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field therapy), PRP (platelet rich plasma) therapy, and acupuncture to speed up the healing process.
If Your Favorite Shape Is a Baseball Diamond, Get in Shape with Long Island Spine!