Thrower’s Elbow

Typical Symptoms

Thrower’s elbow usually presents with pain over the medial (inner) aspect of the elbow. There can be associated swelling, redness, laxity of the elbow and an ongoing aching sensation.

What causes it?

The symptoms usually come on from over-stretching/stressing the ligament on the medial aspect of the elbow and tends to occur in younger individuals who take part in repeated throwing movements such as pitching or tennis. As symptoms progress, there can be subtle tearing of the ligament.

How can I help myself?

It is important to consider why the symptoms have occured and identify whether this is down to volume of training or technique. Offloading from activity might be helpful in younger individuals, allowing time for rest and recovery, or consulting a coach can be helpful to identify if any improvements can be made to technique.

Topical anti-inflammatory gels/creams or manual therapy, for muscle tightness, can help with symptoms, but you must be careful that this does not worsen things. In more significant pain, oral analgesics may be warranted.

When to seek help?

If the elbow pain continues despite making appropriate changes to activities and technique, or if symptoms are limiting activities, it may be worthwhile seeking help.

What are the treatment options?

Your clinician should take a thorough clinical history and examination to assess the problem and having done so, might perform an ultrasound of your elbow to assess the ligament and identify any laxity. If a tear is suspected, a follow-up MRI might be useful to confirm.

While treatment often relies on rehabilitation and physiotherapy, in some cases, a prolotherapy injection may be helpful to tighten the ligament, but if this is ineffective then surgical repair may be required. These should be discussed with your doctor prior to being undertaken.

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