Question:I had surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament. I guess I just overused it pitching baseball competitively through high school and college. I still can't seem to get back to my old pitching strength. Is it even possible? Or am I just too old now?
Answer:Injuries to the elbow are common among overhead throwing athletes. Recovery can take a long time even with surgery and rehab. And there is an expectation that the athlete should be able to get back to normal after a major injury.
Surgeons and rehab experts are working hard to find ways to help athletes get back to competitive sports. Full elbow motion, a stable joint, and strength to resist a repeat injury are all goals of treatment.
Studies show that even when the injured ligament is repaired, muscle strength around the elbow may not be back to normal. EMG tests show decreased activity in the flexor muscles.
The muscles don't contract in the same sequence or with the same level of activity as they should for normal function. It is important to identify which muscles are affected and rehab them specifically.
If you're serious about getting back to your previous level of skill, your surgeon and/or your physical therapist should be able to help you reach your full potential.Jeffrey Guy, MD, et al. Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injuries of the Elbow. In Current Opinion in Orthopaedics. March 2007. Vol. 18. No. 2. Pp. 177-181.
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