A weekly column addressing your most sought-after health questions, answered by Harbin Clinic’s expert healthcare professionals.
Question: My teenager has popping in her elbow. What do you suggest to help?
Dr. Christopher Piller: When it comes to softball and baseball players, elbow injuries are fairly common. These injuries are caused by repetitive motions that place stress on the elbow, which can cause pain or popping. Soreness in the elbow is common, but popping and pain are usually signs of a worse injury. To stop a future injury from developing, early prevention of overuse is extremely important.
Always warm up and cool down. Doing light cardio and stretching the area for 10 to 15 minutes before and after exercising can help reduce strain.
Learn the proper mechanics. Take lessons with an experienced coach to evaluate any form that needs to be corrected.
Avoid year-round play. Playing on multiple teams year-round increases the risk of developing an injury. To prevent this, trade in the travel ball teams for a few rest months.
Watch pitch counts and rest days. Pitch counts are the #1 risk factor for elbow injuries, so paying attention to counts is critical. Also, resist pitching if there’s any pain or fatigue.
Parents and athletes should always keep an eye out for early signs of an injury, which can include loss of form, accuracy, and velocity. Later signs include pain, stiffness, and swelling—all signs that it’s time to see a doctor. Elbow pain shouldn’t be taken lightly, and having your child seen by a medical professional is the best option to get them back in the game.
Harbin Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine is a talented team of orthopedic physicians who are ready to provide comprehensive services to keep an injury from sidelining your athletic goals.