'The pain is in my elbow'
Posted July 23, 2014
I spent a lot of time researching my story about overuse injuries in sports. I talked to doctors, coaches and former players, and I learned a lot. Here are three important things I could not fit into the TV story.
Injuries do not make you a "wimp"
Brandon Young is a physical therapist who works with many young people suffering with arm injuries. He got into the business after blowing his arm at an early age.
"It's heartbreaking," said Young. You think you're a major league prospect, and the attention you were getting is gone."
Young said his story should be a lesson to every parent who has a child playing sports.
"I told my parents that I had elbow pain, and it was the old-school mentality: 'No, you don't have elbow pain, it's in your head,'" he said. "I told them over and over the pain is not in my head, it's in my elbow." And he was right. Young eventually needed Tommy John surgery to fix his arm, and his career playing baseball was over.
Tommy John surgery will not make you a better pitcher
The facts are, only 80 percent of pitchers who have Tommy John surgery can actually regain the velocity they had before they tore the ligament. That's something Duke orthopedic surgeon Grant Garrigues has to explain to his patients all of the time.
"I have had patients come to me with completely normal ligaments asking for the surgery," he said. "There is a huge misconception. People somehow think the surgery will make you throw faster or that you need it to get to the next level of baseball, and the data is extremely clear on that. It will not make you throw harder."
"I pitched every game."
I asked every expert why I constantly hear fathers say, "When I was his age, I pitched every game and didn't get hurt." The answer lies in variety. Kids these days are focusing in on one sport very early in life while most people, even 15 years ago, played sports by seasons.
"I would tell that father, ‘When you played, were you on those traveling teams or were you playing different sports in the offseason?’" Garrigues said. "Baseball has really changed. It's so competitive now."