Medial Elbow Problems in the Overhead-Throwing Athlete : JAAOS - Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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Medial Elbow Problems in the Overhead-Throwing Athlete

Chen, Frank S. MD; Rokito, Andrew S. MD; Jobe, Frank W. MD

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Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 9(2):p 99-113, March 2001.



    The elbow is subjected to enormous valgus stresses during the throwing motion, which places the overhead-throwing athlete at considerable risk for injury. Injuries involving the structures of the medial elbow occur in distinct patterns. Although acute injuries of the medial elbow can occur, the majority are overuse injuries as a result of the repetitive forces imparted to the elbow by throwing. Injury to the ulnar collateral ligament complex results in valgus instability. Valgus extension overload leads to diffuse osseous changes within the elbow joint and secondary posteromedial impingement. Overuse of the flexor-pronator musculature may result in medial epicondylitis and occasional muscle tears and ruptures. Ulnar neuropathy is a common finding that may be due to a variety of factors, including traction, friction, and compression of the ulnar nerve. Advances in nonoperative and operative treatment regimens specific to each injury pattern have resulted in the restoration of elbow function and the successful return of most injured overhead athletes to competitive activities. With further insight into the relevant anatomy, biomechanics, and pathophysiology involved in overhead activities and their associated injuries, significant contributions can continue to be made toward prevention and treatment of these injuries.

    © 2001 by American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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