By Jennifer Griswold. CREATED Sep 9, 2014
Omaha, NE – Baseball pitcher Tommy John had the surgery now named after him in the 1970s.
The elbow injury has plagued major league hurlers for decades, but now doctors are seeing that injury at an increasing rate among younger athletes.
Dr. Matthew Teusink is an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
He says Tommy John surgeries to repair the ulnar collateral ligament are becoming more common at all ages. “When we start seeing it in the youth levels and high school and middle school that’s where it becomes a lot more concerning for us.”
“What pitchers will usually say when it happens is they felt a pop in their arm,” Dr. Teusink says.
He says the rise in the number of professional pitchers needing the surgery can also be attributed to overuse at a younger age.
He recommends downtime for pitchers. He says that means limiting pitch counts. And he suggests players not pitch year round. Teusink says kids don’t need to sit on the couch, but they should change up the type of movement they’re putting their body through. Simply playing other sports throughout the year will give the arm a needed break.
Dr. Teusink says the surgery may not be recommended for all athletes so some rest now may equate to more years on the mound.
For more information including recommendations on maximum pitch counts for various ages, click here.
Jennifer Griswold’s “Living Well” segment airs every Tuesday on Upfront at 4 p.m. If you have a story you’d like Jennifer to share, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.