Elbow injuries very common in athletes

Elbow injuries very common in athletes

From eating to getting dressed, to driving and recreational activities - we use our arms for just about everything we do. That is why elbow injuries are so common and something that should not be neglected.

St. Louis High School junior, Kennedi Poor, is fresh off her first year on the soccer field and it did not take her long to see those girls play hard.  "Some of the girls get pretty rough out there, they just get aggravated with you because you're both fighting for the ball and they just start pushing at you and it's pretty rough," she said.

While most soccer injuries involve the ankles, neck or head, Kennedi took a bad fall onto her elbow in one game.  "I didn't really know what happened," she said, "I just know that I heard a couple of pops and cracks and I grabbed my arm because that scared me."

Kennedi actually shifted her dislocated elbow back into place before getting to the hospital and seeing Dr. John Noble, an orthopedic surgeon at Center for Orthopaedics.  "The flake of bone was right in the front of the elbow," he said.

There are two types of elbow injuries: acute and chronic.  Kennedi's was acute and her recovery hinged on physical therapy.  "Those tend to heal pretty readily and they tend to be non-surgical," said Dr. Noble, "as opposed to throwing athletes, who tend to get chronic elbow problems and those tend to be more surgical."

Throwing sports, like baseball and football carry a deeper range of problems.  "Those are the people who get what are called ruptures of their medial collateral ligament, so their elbow becomes unstable and they have pain and they lose strength with throwing," said Dr. Noble.

Tommy John surgery is a solution to get those athletes throwing again, but for the young ones, overuse can cause permanent damage to the growth plates.  "We see a lot of young pitchers who have primarily pain on the inside of their elbow and it is primarily due to too much throwing," said Dr. Noble.

Rest is crucial to keeping the arm and elbow healthy, according to Dr. Noble.  Kennedi says she is rested up and ready for another soccer season.  "I'll still have the same aggression that I did, I'll just be more careful about if I fall, just don't put your hands down," she said.

Treatment for elbow injuries and pain varies, depending on the cause of the problem. It can include rest, ice or heat, anti-inflammatories, injections or in the worst case, surgery.

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