Pitcher's Elbow

Pitcher throwing baseball.

The bases are loaded. You've thrown two strikes and you're on the pitcher's mound. You wind up, and… the inside of your elbow is killing you. Pitcher's elbow is a common condition, especially in young baseball players whose bones aren't fully developed. It's an “overuse” injury caused by repeatedly pitching overhand, whether at practice or during games, without giving your throwing arm enough time to rest and recover.

This condition, like tennis elbow, is a form of elbow tendonitis. The biggest difference between the two is that pitcher's elbow affects the tendons on the inside of the elbow while tennis elbow affects the tendons on the outside of the elbow. Pitcher's elbow usually develops gradually, causing tenderness, pain and swelling on the inside of the elbow. It reduces your range of motion and could prevent you from playing. In addition, the elbow can become “locked.” Fortunately, chiropractic care can help alleviate the stresses contributing to the pain so your arm can heal naturally, without medication or surgery.

Pitcher's elbow.

What's Going On in Pitcher's Elbow

The elbow is an impressive structure. It's both a hinge and a pivot joint: the hinge bends and straightens your arm while the pivot lets it rotate. The elbow trades off its versatility for vulnerability to injury. Here's an overview of the structures that make up your elbow:

  • Humerus: the end of the upper arm bone
  • Radius: forearm bone that runs on the lateral (thumb) side of the arm
  • Ulna: forearm bone that runs along the medial (little finger) side of the arm

All these bones are moved and supported by muscles, ligaments and tendons, any of which can become irritated and inflamed. A common problem is flexor tendonitis—inflammation in the tendons where they attach to the humerus on the inner part of your elbow. It makes throwing painful and, if the inflammation is severe, it will hurt even when you're resting.

Playing through an injury is not recommended and can make things far worse.

In some extreme situations when there is tearing of the ligament, “Tommy John surgery” (named after a baseball player in the 1970's) may be required. In this procedure, another ligament in the body is used to replace the injured elbow ligament.

There is another option, though, if you have pitcher's elbow: chiropractic care.

How Chiropractors Treat Pitcher's Elbow

Chiropractors use noninvasive, safe techniques to treat pitcher's elbow rather than prescribing pain medication or recommending surgery. These include:

  • Deep tissue massage to release soft tissue and increase range of motion
  • Chiropractic manipulations to increase mobility in the arm
  • Ultrasound, “cold” laser or e-stim (electric muscle stimulation) sessions to reduce pain and break up scar tissue

A series of chiropractic treatments is often needed to treat pitcher's elbow. During this period, it's important to rest your arm and not try to pitch until you're cleared to do so. You should return to practice and play gradually. You can also ice your elbow at home, 20 minutes on and one hour off, or as advised. Your chiropractor can also recommend exercises you can do at home to regain strength and flexibility.

To prevent further injury to your elbow, follow these tips:

  • Do a light general warm-up before pitching
  • Slowly stretch your muscles before pitching
  • Don't overdo it by playing in too many games
  • Practice good pitching technique

After recovery from pitcher's elbow, consult with an expert who can show you the mechanics of correct throwing, which will reduce the chance of another injury. Prevention is always best, but if you do start to feel pain in the inner part of your elbow, consider calling a chiropractor. The sooner you start treatment, the sooner you can get back on the field.

Reviews By Our Satisfied Patients

  • "I've been coming to see Dr. Bob since 1984 for my back pain. After each visit, the vast improvement lasts about one whole month. Even after all these years, Dr. Bob continues to provide outstanding care for me, my children, and my grandchildren. I've referred several people to HealthWise Chiropractic, so they too can see the results I have. My favorite part of my visits is the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and doctors and, of course, the results I get that improve my daily living."
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  • "About ten years ago I was at the gym, I bent over and couldn't get up, the pain was horrible. I contacted Healthwise and Dr. Mike gave me an emergency appointment that evening. He did a complete physical and x-ray before he started any treatment. After my first treatment I was able to stand up and walk with minimal pain. With a few visits I was back to normal. I continued treatments as needed for the next several years.
    I see Dr. Bob regularly to stay fit and pain-free. He tests my strength and weakness to determine the best treatment. Our open discussion led him to help my acid reflux. I now exercise and walk as is essential for a septuagenarian.
    I told Dr. Bob that I was starting to get knee pain that I thought was arthritis; I didn't think chiropractic care could help. He told me about new equipment to help. I look forward to improvement.
    I was a skeptic of chiropractic care, now I would recommend HealthWise to anyone with chronic/simple pain. It worked for me. It can work for you!"
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  • "I had a very limited understanding of chiropractic care until I tried it for the first time 12 years ago. I came in with severe pain in my neck, which prohibited me from moving my head. I was greeted by a kind staff, had an exam and x-rays done on my first appointment followed by an adjustment. I felt so much better after my first adjustment and by following the treatment plan my headaches and migraines improved. My overall health has improved because of chiropractic care. Dr. Bob helps make sure that I am taking the right supplements to optimize my health and fitness performance. They have helped me with allergies, knee and shoulder pain, and earaches. I had no idea when I began my chiropractic journey just how much help the doctors and staff at HealthWise would be at improving my quality of life."
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  • "I have been a patient at HealthWise Chiropractic for over 20 years. In the past and currently I am seeing Dr. Bob, however, I have seen all docs at Healthwise. My general issues are usually seasonally related to sinus and allergies. Recently I have been receiving treatment for my hip and lower back. Dr. Bob zeros in on trigger points and quickly relieves my pain. He is a wealth of knowledge and offers help and suggestion on my health issues. The staff is friendly and helpful. I leave feeling better and I believe helps to keep my body aligned and energized. I have also come in after falls, injuries and surgeries. I truly believe my adjustments at the time added to a quicker recovery."
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  • "I have been a patient of Dr. Bob for two and half months. . I see him for an adjustment every two weeks. I started seeing a chiropractor for the first time in January 2021 while working in Florida for my continued lower back pain and chronic bilateral hip bursitis. Because my pain was mostly relieved with continued adjustments, I decided to continue with treatment when returning to Wisconsin. I have been very happy with my continued pain relief/adjustments at HealthWise. I highly recommend anyone with chronic back and neck pain to try chiropractic adjustments here at HealthWise. It will make your life better."
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  • "I enjoy coming, getting readjusted and any additional therapies. It has made my life healthier and less stressful. If I have questions, they are answered at that visit. The staff is very professional, personable and friendly. I always look forward to my next visit with them. I am glad to be part of Healthwise Chiropractic family:)"
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  • "DR MIKE IS A GREAT CHIROPRACTOR. HE TAKES THE TIME TO GIVE YOU A COMPLETE ADJUSTMENT IS TIME. HE IS ALSO A GOOD CONVERSATIONALIST. THANKS"
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  • "Dr. Mike is fantastic! He is very personable….will take time to really to your needs… I enjoy my visits…the maintenance has helped tremendously…..and he is there when the emergency pops up! Excellent Chiropractor!"
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