How to Deal With Elbow Pain in Baseball

Elbow pain is a common injury among baseball players. Learn how to deal with this type of pain and prevent it from happening in the future.

Elbow Anatomy

The elbow is a hinge joint that is formed by the articulation of three bones: the upper arm bone (humerus) and the two bones of the forearm (the ulna and radius). The ulna is the larger of the two bones and is on the inside of the forearm, while the radius is on the outside. Two ligaments, the annular ligament and the ulnar collateral ligament, attach the bones of the forearm to the humerus and help to stabilize the elbow joint.

The three bones that make up the elbow

The three bones that make up the elbow are the humerus, ulna, and radius. The humerus is the long bone in the upper arm that extends from the shoulder to the elbow. The ulna is the larger of the two bones in the forearm and extends from the elbow to the wrist. The radius is the smaller of the two bones in the forearm and runs parallel to the ulna.

The ligaments and tendons in the elbow

The elbow is a hinge joint that allows the forearm and hand to move in a multitude of directions. The primary movers of the elbow are the muscles of the forearm. The biceps brachii, brachialis, and brachioradialis all originate on the scapula and attach to the radius. These muscles flex the forearm at the elbow (brachioradialis is an exception). The triceps brachii also attaches to the scapula but inserts on the ulna. This muscle extends the forearm at the elbow.

The ulna and radius are held together at the elbow by ligaments. These structures provide stability to the joint and allow for normal range of motion. There are three main ligaments in the elbow:

The ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) is located on the inside (medial side) of the elbow. It runs from the humerus to the ulna and prevents excessive side-to-side movement of the ulna at the elbow. The UCL is commonly injured in overhead throwing athletes, a condition known as “pitcher’s elbow” or “thrower’s elbow.”

The radial collateral ligament (RCL) is located on the outside (lateral side) of the elbow. It runs from the humerus to radius and prevents excessive side-to-side movement of radius at
the elbow. Injuries to this ligament are less common than those to UCL.

The annular ligament is a fibrous ring that surrounds
the head of radius where it meets with capitulum of humerus forming radiohumeral joint. This ligament stabilizes head of radius in radiohumeral joint.(1)

Causes of Elbow Pain in Baseball

One of the most common injuries in baseball is elbow pain. It can be caused by overuse, improper throwing mechanics, or direct trauma to the elbow. It is important to rest the elbow and ice it to reduce the swelling. You can also take anti-inflammatory medication to help with the pain. If the pain is severe, you may need to see a doctor.

Overuse injuries

One common type of elbow pain in baseball players is due to overuse injuries. These injuries are often the result of repetitive motions that put stress on the elbow joint. Common symptoms include pain, tenderness, swelling, and stiffness. Treatment typically involves rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

Traumatic injuries

One of the most common causes of elbow pain in baseball is due to a traumatic injury. These types of injuries can occur from a single event, such as getting hit by a pitch, or from repetitive stress, such as throwing too many pitches. While some elbow injuries can be treated at home, more severe injuries may require medical attention.

Another common cause of elbow pain is due to overuse. This is often seen in pitchers who throw too many pitches or have poor mechanics. It can also be seen in position players who repeatedly make the same throwing motion, such as infielders making throws to first base. Overuse injuries can often be treated with rest, ice and anti-inflammatory medication. If the pain does not improve after a few days, it is important to see a doctor.

Elbow pain can also be caused by conditions that are not related to baseball, such as arthritis or nerve problems. These types of conditions will require treatment from a medical professional.

Treatment of Elbow Pain in Baseball

If you are a baseball player and have elbow pain, you are not alone. Many baseball players experience elbow pain at some point in their careers. Elbow pain is a common injury in baseball, especially for pitchers. The good news is that there are treatment options available that can help you manage your elbow pain and get back to playing the game you love.

Rest and ice

If you experience mild elbow pain, you may be able to treat it at home with basic self-care measures. These include resting the arm and applying ice to the affected area. You can also take over-the-counter Pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen (Aleve).

If these measures don’t provide enough relief, or if your elbow pain is severe, you may need other treatments. Your doctor can discuss the best options for you, which may include:

– Physical therapy. Exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around your elbow can help relieve pain and improve range of motion.
– Steroid injections. Injecting a corticosteroid medication into the space around your elbow joint can reduce inflammation and pain.
– Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. PRP contains a high concentration of platelets, which are blood cells that promote healing. PRP injections are also thought to help reduce inflammation.
– Surgery. In some cases, surgery may be needed to repair damaged tissue or remove bone spurs or other blockages in the elbow joint

Physical therapy

One of the most important tools in the treatment of elbow pain in baseball is physical therapy. Players will often receive a prescribed regimen of exercises designed to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the elbow joint. The therapist may also use electrical stimulation, massage, or other modalities to help reduce pain and promote healing. It is important to follow the therapist’s instructions carefully and to continue with the exercises even after the pain has subsided to prevent further injury.


Surgery is usually a last resort for treating elbow pain in baseball players. It is usually only recommended when the player has a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is the ligament that stabilizes the elbow joint. Surgery involves reconstructing the UCL using a tendon from another part of the body. The procedure is called “Tommy John surgery” after the first baseball player to have it. The recovery time from Tommy John surgery is typically 12 to 18 months.

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