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10 Tips to Avoid an Elbow Ligament Injury

10 Tips to Avoid an Elbow Ligament Injury

Spring is underway and so is the urge to get out of the house. Soon, young athletes and weekend warriors alike will be shaking off the dust and getting ready for sport activities like baseball, softball, golf and tennis. However, any athlete involved in overhead sports who starts the season by going hard, too soon, can risk an elbow ligament injury.

Let’s take a look at some causes of the elbow ligament injury and how to prevent it from sidelining what you love to do most.

How Common is an Elbow Ligament Injury?

Elbow ligament injuries can be caused by repetitive strain injuries, joint instability, traumatic injuries, improper stretching as well as single-sport participation in the younger athlete. Classified by severity, sprains range from mild first-degree to severe third-degree sprains. Stretching of ligaments in a first-degree sprain can improve from physical therapy alone. While tearing with a third-degree sprain may require surgery in addition to physical therapy to reach pre-injury functional abilities.

Common elbow ligament injuries include:

  • Elbow dislocation
  • Anular ligament tear
  • Radial head dislocation
  • Ulna collateral ligament (UCL) sprain
  • Little league elbow

Injuries at the elbow are common, particularly among adolescent athletes who play overhead sports. They have become increasingly common among players of all levels – in fact, evidence from a recent epidemiology study shows that the number of elbow injuries in youth has increased six times since the 1990s.

Young athletes who train for a single sport year-round have been found to be of increased risk of ligamentous injury. Overuse and excess stress placed on the joints from single sport year-round participation can lead to a wide range of repetitive strain injuries. Sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is one of the most common injuries suffered by athletes who participate in sports such as softball, gymnastics, volleyball, javelin, tennis and especially baseball.

How Can Athletes Prevent an Elbow Ligament Injury?

Overuse injuries – especially those related to the elbow and shoulder – are preventable. Some tips to keep an athlete in the game include:

  1. Warm up properly
  2. Cool down after practice and games with upper arm and forearm stretching
  3. Emphasize good mechanics and body control
  4. Rotate playing from high volume high intensity (pitching) to low volume throwing (outfield) positions.
  5. Participate in other sports instead of playing the same sport year-round
  6. Engage in age-appropriate training
  7. Adhere to guidelines such as pitch counts established by Little League Baseball
  8. Rest and ice treatments when experiencing elbow or shoulder pain
  9. Communicate with the coach and/or athletic trainer about any pain or discomfort
  10. If pain continues, get help right away instead of playing through the pain

Sidelined? Get the Treatment You Need to Get Back in the Game

Elbow injuries can not only prevent you from playing your favorite sport, but they can also directly impact quality of life. If you or a loved one is suffering from an elbow ligament injury, your physical therapist can help you get the treatment you need to help reduce pain and get back in the game safely.

Schedule your in-person or Telehealth appointment by calling 877-304-3000.

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