Len Rome’s Local Health: ‘Tommy John’ surgery

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An athlete should get any pain looked at, especially if it's elbow or shoulder pain

(WYTV) – Sometimes, surgeons have to reconstruct a torn elbow ligament.

Major League Baseball pitchers can have this problem — the slang term for the procedure is the “Tommy John” surgery. And the number of high school athletes having this done has really risen in the past decade.

Dr. Paul Saluan, a sports medicine doctor from the Cleveland Clinic, says the increase in this surgery among young athletes may be a case of too much, too soon.

“Overuse is responsible for the vast majority of these injuries. The best way to take care of these injuries is not let them happen in the first place. So, pay attention to pitch-counts and pay attention to throwing in any and all leagues.”

The surgery is fine for major league athletes but one study shows that athletes between the ages of 15 and 19 needing ‘Tommy John’ surgery rose by more than 50% since it was first performed in the 1970s.

One theory is that we tend to underestimate the amount of throwing our children are doing. Saluan says to keep pitches to a minimum and allow for enough rest.

He says a young athlete should never push through pain in order to continue playing. An athlete should get any pain looked at, especially if it’s elbow or shoulder pain.

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