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High School Coaches Must Implement a Pitching Limit for Young Baseball Players

June 3, 2016

In a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, to which Dr. Anthony Romeo contributed, the paper calls attention to the startling incidence of elbow injuries in high school baseball pitchers. An alarmingly high amount of young pitchers are incurring injuries that require ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction (UCLR) – commonly known as Tommy John Surgery.

Tommy John Surgery

Dr. Frank Jobe performed the first UCLR procedure in 1974 on Dodgers pitcher Tommy John – earning the procedure its common name. Since then, doctors have developed 10 different techniques for performing an UCLR.

This serious surgery treats persistent pain in the elbow as a result of a medial ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injury or tear – most likely caused by overuse when pitching or throwing. In recent years, Major League Baseball has seen a rise in the number of players requiring Tommy John Surgery from less than 5 in 1986 to greater than 30 in 2012.

High School Pitchers at Risk

As professional instances of UCL injuries have gone up, so too have UCL injuries in high school athletes. A study by Dr. Anthony Romeo at Rush University Medical Center and others finds that 15- to 19-year-old athletes make up nearly half the number of injuries requiring Tommy John Surgery.

Even more appalling, the amount of high school athletes requiring the procedure increases by 10 percent each year. Tommy John Surgery is a serious procedure requiring rigorous rehabilitation, and coaches, schools, and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) must take steps to guard its pitchers.

How We Can Protect High Schoolers from Injury

Baseball on GrassBy not implementing a limit on how long a pitcher can throw, the IHSA puts its young players at risk of injury and long-term repercussions. Dr. Anthony Romeo and others support a maximum pitch count of 105 for young pitchers – although Dr. Anthony Romeo believes 90 would be even safer. The IHSA must put a pitch limit in place to defend overworked high school athletes from unnecessarily suffering UCL injuries at ever higher rates.

Schedule an Appointment with Dr. Anthony Dr. Anthony Romeo, MD

If you think you might be experiencing pain as a result of a UCL injury or another affliction, schedule a consultation with Dr. Anthony Dr. Anthony Romeo, MD today. We have four locations throughout Chicagoland, but we meet with patients from across the country. Don’t wait to seek treatment – start the journey to recovery today.