What Exactly is Tommy John Surgery?

What Exactly is Tommy John Surgery?

May 15, 2015

With the baseball season just getting underway, young starting pitchers are often found on short leashes in terms of pitch count in order to avoid injury. One of the most catastrophic injuries a pitcher can sustain is an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament of the elbow: a key stabilizing structure.  With the velocity at which their arms hurl through space, the ligaments help stabilize the joints through the rapid and sudden deceleration of the pitching arm.

Tommy John was the first major league pitcher to come back from this injury which was once considered career-ending, going on to pitch for another 13 years until he finally retired at age 46. Dr. Frank Jobe, who passed away at age 88 last year, was the pioneering surgeon that showed that the reconstruction of this ligament was even possible. Now, it’s estimated that one-third of major league pitchers have undergone this surgery with 87% of them able to return to professional baseball, according to a recent study. Many of today’s star pitchers including Stephen Strasburg and A.J. Burnett have successfully returned from this injury although the study did note that pitching performance did decline slightly in terms of ERA, WHIP, and innings pitched overall.

Of course, as with all things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Today, many experts recommend off-season and in-season conditioning programs to prevent overuse and injury of key joints and muscle groups. SimpleTherapy offers a variety of shoulder and elbow programs designed to keep the arm moving and prevent injuries. So before you go out to throw the ball around, consider some of our simple exercises and stretches to keep you going all season.

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