Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

A new article asserts that year-round participation in baseball has contributed to a 10x increase in Tommy John surgeries.

Prevalence of Tommy John Surgery

If you play baseball year-round, you might want to skip a session in the batting cage and schedule one at the doctor's office. According to the May 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, overuse is the main cause of ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) injuries, and year-round participation in baseball has contributed to a tenfold increase in Tommy John surgeries over the last decade.

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"Despite all our efforts to educate youth athletes, parents and coaches, the trend of UCL injuries continues to be on the rise," said Jeremy Bruce, MD, lead author and orthopaedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, in a statement. "The success we've had in improving our techniques and outcomes with UCL reconstruction may be adding to our problems in preventing the injuries. The belief that some have about UCL reconstruction being a safe, simple way to improve one's ability to throw is a great misconception that may be adding to our epidemic."

Athletes aged 14 to 16 are less likely to return to the sport after Tommy John surgery than their counterparts aged 18 and older: 75 percent versus 85 percent, respectively.

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The authors of the article suggest that baseball pitchers follow the American Sports Medicine Institute's recommended guidelines to minimize the risk of injury. Some of their suggestions include no competitive baseball pitching for four months each year, and reducing pitches to under 100 innings per year. Read the rest of them here.

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