So-called Tommy John surgery, a surgical repair for injured elbows, has saved the careers of many a major-league pitcher. While this may seem like an extreme treatment for a high school athlete, a recent study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine has found teenage pitchers now undergo more of the procedures than any other group. These results highlight the risk of overuse injuries in this age group, according to orthopedic specialists.

The study found that athletes ages 15 to 19 account for 56.8 percent of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction procedures, commonly known as Tommy John surgery after the pitcher who won more than half the victories in his 26 years in the major leagues after becoming the first person to undergo the procedure.

Damage to the UCL, a band of tissue in the elbow that binds the upper and lower arm bones together, is typically an overuse injury caused by throwing at extreme intensity and frequency.

Sports have become so competitive that young athletes are often playing for nine or more months every year on school teams, travel teams and in multiple leagues, tournaments, showcases, camps, indoor ball and other programs. Playing when fatigued, and when a player’s physical condition and technique may not be the best increase the risk of developing an overuse injury.

Published in Dr Allegra Blog

teenAthleteTeen sports are great: They promote teamwork, jump-start a lifelong exercise habit, and provide an antidote to obesity. But teen athletes can also get hurt, which means they—and their parents and coaches—should be vigilant about prevention.

Sports injuries fall into two categories. Acute injuries, like a sprained ankle or torn ACL, occur suddenly, after a missed step or a midfield collision. Overuse injuries are caused over time by repetitive motion. Overuse injuries used to be fairly rare among teens and kids but increasingly, orthopedic specialists see teens with overuse injuries that used to plague mostly collegiate or pro athletes.

These injuries include damaged ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow (common in baseball pitchers, it can be fixed with so-called Tommy John reconstruction surgery), or osteochondritis dissecans, an overuse problem most commonly found in the knee that can result in loose bone or cartilage fragments in the joint.

One culprit: America's youth sports culture. Immersion in high school teams, private club teams, traveling teams and sports summer camps mean more injuries. Many kids now specialize early and pursue a single sport through adolescence, rather than switching sports with the season. When young athletes do that, they lose the benefit of cross-training. Focusing on all-around athleticism keeps the body balanced and less vulnerable to injury.

Published in Dr Allegra Blog
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 18:03


Sports participation promotes the physical and emotional well-being of children, and also encourages a lifelong habit of exercise. Although the benefits of athletic activity are significant, too much activity can lead to injury.

In recent years, orthopedic physicians have begun to see young athletes with significant increase in overuse injuries. In most cases, these are sports related.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time, when an athletic activity is repeated so often that some areas of the body do not have enough time to recover between playing. For example, overhand pitching in baseball can result in injuries to the elbow, and swimming is often associated with injuries of the shoulder.

Because young athletes are still growing, they are at greater risk of injury than adults. The consequences of overdoing a sport can include injuries that impair growth and may lead to long-term health problems.

Published in Dr Allegra Blog
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