What is Pitcher’s Shoulder?

physical therapy near White Plains NY

What is Pitcher’s Shoulder?

When you’re a baseball pitcher, you engage in repetitive overhead motion that places significant stress on your shoulder. Pitcher’s shoulder is an injury that can keep you off the field. Our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute helps athletes prevent overuse injuries and treats them with expert care when they occur. Please continue reading to learn more about pitcher’s shoulder and how we can help treat this condition. 

What Is Pitcher’s Shoulder?

Your shoulder consists of the humerus, the clavicle, and the scapula, along with ligaments and tendons that connect the bones to your muscles. Pitcher’s shoulder, or thrower’s shoulder, is an injury that affects many baseball players. It is an overuse injury that is caused by an increased load placed upon the rotator cuff. While the name suggests that this is a baseball injury, any athlete that participates in a sport where repetitive overhand motions are required can sustain this injury. Some of these sports include tennis, volleyball, and track and field events. There are different phases of an overhand throw, and the reason behind a throwing injury can be analyzed by looking at these phases. Here are the phases that make up the pitching motion:

  • Wind-up.
  • Early cocking.
  • Late cocking.
  • Acceleration.
  • Follow-through. 

Of the different phases that comprise the pitching motion, the late cocking and follow-through phases place the most significant force on the shoulder. The shoulder of a pitcher can experience forces of half of their body weight during the late cocking phase. To generate maximum pitch speed, the pitcher must bring the arm up and behind the body, and this position helps the pitcher put speed on the ball. When a structure in your shoulder weakens from repetitive stress, the other structures need to take on the overload, which can decrease the shoulder’s stability and lead to injuries in the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff muscles can initially compensate for the overload by increasing muscle activity, but this can result in fatigue. Fatigue in the rotator cuff can make it challenging to maintain normal shoulder mechanics. 

Symptoms of Pitcher’s Shoulder

Pain is the most common symptom among pitchers and other throwing athletes, along with decreased performance and velocity. In some cases, a pitcher may feel that their shoulder is coming out of the socket or is loose. Throwing pain is typically caused by inflamed rotator cuff tendons. The rotator cuff is often irritated in throwing athletes. 

Treating Pitcher’s Shoulder

The severity of the injury will determine the treatment for pitcher’s shoulder. At New York Sports Medicine Institute, our team knows that even with the strongest efforts to prevent this injury, it can be unavoidable at times. If you suffer from pitcher’s shoulder, you should not hesitate to seek out medical treatment. Treating this problem early on can lead to you getting back on the field quicker. Some of the different treatment methods that we may utilize can include the following:

  • Rest and activity modification. 
  • Exercises
  • PRP and hyaluronic acid injections. 
  • Surgical treatment. 

Our team understands that every throwing athlete is different and will work alongside you to develop a program to help you stay in the best shape for your sport. Pitcher’s shoulder can quickly derail your season. To prevent future pitching injuries, you should strive to maintain good shoulder health. Proper throwing mechanics, conditioning, and recovery time can all prevent these injuries. 

Contact Our Team at NYSMI

Dealing with the pain and instability associated with pitcher’s shoulder can be devastating for an athlete. Fortunately, our team at New York Sports Medicine Institute can help. If you are looking for ways to improve your performance or for ways to treat your shoulder injury, please do not hesitate to contact our team today!