Why Do Throwing Injuries Occur?

Whether you are a professional or amateur athlete, you can be susceptible to a throwing injury. If you are in pain, schedule an appointment with the board-certified doctors at OrthoNeuro today! We have many offices located throughout Columbus, OH for your convenience.

What Is a Throwing Injury?

A throwing injury is an injury to the shoulder joint or elbow that a throwing athlete may sustain while playing a sport that requires a significant amount of overhead throwing motions. These injuries are primarily seen in sports such as:

  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Football

Overuse injuries are common in throwing athletes. A repetitive throwing motion or serving a ball can cause significant stress on a throwing athlete’s shoulder, resulting in injury.

An athlete experiencing shoulder pain from a throwing injury in Columbus, OH.

Anatomy of the Shoulder Joint

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint made up of three bones:

  1. Humerus (upper arm bone) – A strong, connective tissue keeps your upper arm bone centered in its socket
  2. Scapula (shoulder blade)
  3. Clavicle (collarbone)

These bones all work together and are stabilized by ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

Common Throwing Injuries

There are many common throwing injuries that an athlete, in particular, may experience. Below is a list of some of the most common types of these throwing injuries.

  • Rotator Cuff Tears — Rotator cuff tendon tears often begin by fraying. However, as the damage worsens, the rotator cuff tendon can tear. When this happens to one or more of your rotator cuff tendons, the tendon is no longer fully attached or pulls away from the head of the humerus. Rotator cuff tears are very common.
  • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis — When your rotator cuff tendons or muscles are overworked, they can become inflamed, causing frequent irritation. Rotator cuff tendonitis is the mildest form of rotator cuff injury.
  • Superior Labrum Anterior to Posterior (SLAP Tear) — Occurs when part of your labrum is injured, specifically where the long head of your biceps tendon meets your labrum.
  • Bicep Tendonitis and Tendon Tears — Repetitive throwing can cause your upper biceps tendon to become irritated or inflamed, resulting in pain in the front of your shoulder and weakness.  Sometimes the damage caused by tendinitis can result in a biceps tendon tear.
  • Scapular Rotation Dysfunction — Repetitive use of your scapular muscles can begin to affect the position of your scapula, making you more susceptible to shoulder injuries.
  • Subluxation— This occurs when the head of the humerus slips out of the shoulder socket, resulting in dislocation.
  • Internal Impingement — Shoulder impingement occurs during an overhead throwing action when the rotator cuff tendons get pinched between the glenoid and the humeral head.
  • Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit — Throwing motions at high speeds requires a lot of extreme rotations. This can cause the ligaments at the front of your shoulder to stretch and loosen. As a result, the soft tissues in the back of your shoulder begin to tighten, limiting your internal rotation.  
  • Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) Injury — Occurs when your UCL has a small or large tear.
  • Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow — These are types of tendinitis or tendon inflammation.
  • Ulnar Neuritis — Occurs when your ulnar nerve becomes compressed or irritated around your elbow.

What Causes or Triggers a Throwing Injury?

A throwing injury can be caused or triggered by:

  • Repeated throwing at a high speed
  • Improper techniques
  • Muscle imbalance
  • Training errors
  • Overuse

Throwing Injury Symptoms

Your throwing injury symptoms will vary, depending on the type of elbow or shoulder injury that you have. Common symptoms can include:

  • Radiating pain
  • Weakness
  • Reduced/loss of motion
  • Possible locking or catching sensation
  • Popping or snapping noise
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Tenderness
  • Numbness/tingling

Treatment for Throwing Injuries

Depending on the severity of your injury, your treatment may begin with the following nonsurgical treatments:

If these nonsurgical methods do not relieve your pain, your doctor may recommend surgery. Most throwing injuries can be treated with arthroscopic shoulder surgery, which is a minimally invasive procedure. For some, though, open surgery may be required.

Your physician will inform you of the best procedure for your needs. After surgery, physical therapy is often recommended to help you regain the strength and mobility of your throwing shoulder.

Methods Used to Prevent a Throwing Injury

There are some things you can do to help avoid throwing injuries from occurring. You can sometimes prevent these injuries by:

  • Using the proper technique and conditioning
  • Allowing yourself adequate time to rest and recover
  • Properly stretching and warming up

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your shoulder or elbow, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment. Contact our team of professionals at OrthoNeuro today to schedule an appointment! We have multiple offices located throughout Columbus, Ohio for your convenience. 

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