Tommy John surgery has become something that most big league pitchers and players have to consider when having elbow pain. Throwing, especially at high speeds puts a lot of stress on the elbow. Repetitive throwing can lead to swelling and tearing of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament in the arm. This ligament keeps the Humerus, Radius and Ulna in place and provides mobility of the elbow.
Compared to the larger muscles and ligaments in the body, this ligament is not as strong as knee ligaments (Anterior Cruciate Ligament). Our body also wasn’t designed to perform high velocity throwing for years. In time, if enough pressure is applied to the elbow, it will tear apart causing pain and effecting the velocity of throwing.
It is common for major league pitchers to have Tommy John Surgery. Surgeons take some of the tendon of the players “good” forearm or hamstring and put it into the “bad” elbow.
They also drill holes in the ulna and humerus bones to sew it in. Sounds easy huh? Well, there are some concerns with this surgery. In order to move the ulnar nerve away, surgeons have to cut or detach major muscles. This can lead to infection, fractures, nerve irritation, numbness and inability for the muscle to function properly. It is also pricey. This surgery can run between $10,000 and $20,000.
Proper stretching, weight lifting can help pitchers stay away from this painful and expensive surgery. Exercises with elbow pronation, supination and flexion are key to keeping the elbow in proper condition and ready to take the added stress of throwing a ball 100mph.
As chiropractors, we help keep prevent this surgery by keeping the joint in its proper position, allowing the muscles and ligament to remain strong and work out any tissue damage that may have occurred. We are a great option.