Common Elbow Injuries in Athletes

As one of the team physicians for the Department of Athletics at the University of Virginia, Dr. Bobby Chhabra maintains an in-depth knowledge of the elbow, wrist, and hand injuries common to athletes. Dr. Bobby Chhabra also leads as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics with the University of Virginia Health System.

For athletes, repeated throwing motions place significant stress on the elbow. The motion of overhand throwing wears on the structures of the joint, which often do not have enough time to heal between practices and games. This can lead to such conditions as flexor tendonitis, an irritation of the pronator and flexor tendons attached to the humerus of the upper arm. Perhaps more common is the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear, which results in pain at the inside of the elbow as well as a decrease in throwing speed.

Racquet use also carries the risk of overuse injuries to the elbow. Perhaps the most common such injury, tennis elbow, occurs as a result of damage where muscle and tendons attach to the outer bones. This results in sudden or increasing pain that worsens with use. The same process is known as golfer’s elbow when it affects the inside tendons and muscles of the joint. These and other potential injuries to the elbow, such as dislocation or ulnar neuritis, require a physician’s attention for diagnosis and treatment.

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