Jock Doc

Ballplayer's elbow pain and locking might require surgery

Q: I am a 24-year-old recreational-level baseball infielder who has developed right elbow pain while throwing. Sometimes it is a sharp pain and sometimes my elbow locks up, too. I do not remember ever injuring it. I rested it for a month, but when I went back to play the pain just came right back. What do you think is wrong and what can I do to get better?

Selesnick Harlan.JPG
Dr. Harlan Selesnick

A: The elbow joint is often injured in throwing athletes. Pain while throwing can be caused by an injury to the "Tommy John Ligament" known as the ulnar collateral ligament. This may result in pain on the inside of the elbow with decreased ball velocity while throwing.

Pain on the back of the elbow while throwing may be caused by bone spurs or soft tissue impingement. An elbow that has pain and locking usually has loose pieces of bone or cartilage that float in the joint and get stuck. Some of these problems may require surgery to correct the injury.

I recommend that you see an orthopedic surgeon or sports medicine specialist to determine the cause of your elbow pain so you can return to play quickly.

Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to