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What is thrower's elbow?

Thrower’s elbow is an umbrella term used for a number of painful overuse injuries in the elbow. These injuries are most commonly seen in baseball pitchers and other athletes who perform repeated throwing motions during games and practices, but can occur in anyone who overuses their elbow joint. Overuse injuries occur and worsen gradually over time.

Some conditions commonly called “thrower’s elbow” include:

  • Flexor tendinitis—An inflammation of the tendons on the inner side of the elbow
  • Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury—Damage to the UCL, the most commonly injured ligament in throwing athletes
  • Valgus extension overload—A wearing away of protective cartilage and overgrowth of bone spurs
  • Olecranon stress fracture—Fracture of the bone at the tip of the elbow due to an overload of shock
  • Ulnar neuritis—An irritation of the ulnar nerve as a result of repeated stretching and contracting over the elbow

Symptoms

Symptoms of thrower’s elbow can vary depending on the underlying cause, but in most cases, you will experience pain. Pain is especially likely after throwing or any other activities that repeatedly use the elbow. In some advanced cases, the elbow will have limited range of motion and may even experience tingling and/or numbness in the elbow, forearm or hand.

Treatment options

Thrower’s elbow can be treated with nonsurgical or surgical treatment options, depending on the underlying condition and its severity.

Nonsurgical treatment options include:

  • Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories
  • Correcting throwing form
  • Physical therapy

Your doctor will decide if surgery is the best option for you.

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