When Pitching Gets Painful, a Shoulder Specialist Can Help
To be a pitcher in baseball requires more strength and perseverance than most other positions. Sometimes, this exhausting job can result in real problems that requirea the attention of a shoulder specialist.
Rotator Cuff Injuries
Many people agree that the worst type of injury a pitcher can develop is a rotator cuff injury. The term "rotator cuff" refers to a series of four muscles that make up the large tendon that allows for arm movement at the shoulder. Injuries and symptoms vary depending on which particular muscle has been injured, but most rotator cuff injuries are tears.
Rotator cuff injuries happen to non-athletes as well. However, most people do not put their arm and shoulder socket through the amount of stress and exertion that a baseball pitcher does. A non-athlete with a minor tear can get back to feeling normal through a series of physical therapy sessions and medicine. The professional baseball pitcher does not have this option unless he quits the game. This is because once a tear has occurred, it will not heal on its own. If he continues the pitching motions that caused the original injury, the tear will only become bigger, and the pain more severe.
In this serious situation, a shoulder specialist will most likely need to conduct surgery to repair the torn muscle. The worse the tear gets, the more invasive and serious the surgery will have to be. Therefore, it is best to get help as soon as the problem is recognized. Do not try to shrug it off and keep playing.
Another part of the shoulder that can tear from overexertion is the labrum. Labrums exist in both our shoulder and hip sockets. It is a layer of cartilage that lines the socket to give the ligaments something to attach to. Too many fastballs can cause this tissue to tear or even separate from the joint. As with other injuries, physical therapy would cure most people's ailments, but surgery is usually needed for baseball pitchers who aren't ready for retirement just yet.
One type of baseball injury making headlines today is injury of the axillary artery. This artery is a vital component of the circulatory system that just happens to run through the shoulder. Dillon Gee, a pitcher for the New York Mets, underwent surgery to repair a damaged axillary artery. Gee's artery damage was caused by a blood clot that had developed in the artery. However, more common shoulder injuries can lead to arterial injuries because of the strain or trauma that occurs in that area right next to the blood vessel.
Any of these injuries could mean the beginning of the end of a pitcher's career. However, if you have had the misfortune of suffering one of these injuries, seeing the shoulder specialist should be more about restoring your health than restoring your career.
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