Context

Baseball pitching requires fast and coordinated motions of the whole body to reach high ball speeds, putting considerable strain on the musculoskeletal system, particularly the shoulder and elbow.

Design

Descriptive epidemiology study.

Objective

To describe musculoskeletal symptoms and the functional status of the shoulder and elbow in male high school baseball pitchers.

Setting

Dutch baseball talent academies.

Patients or Other Participants

125 male high school baseball pitchers aged 12 to 18 years, who participated in one of the six Dutch baseball talent academies and the Dutch National U-18 team were recruited and enrolled.

Main Outcome Measure(s)

Musculoskeletal symptoms, functional status of the shoulder and elbow were registered for each player every six months over two consecutive baseball seasons through self-assessment questionnaires, including the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic (KJOC) and the Western Ontario Shoulder Instability Index (WOSI) questionnaires.

Results

570 musculoskeletal (MSS) symptoms in 93 of the 125 players were reported. The average six-month prevalence for symptoms of the throwing shoulder was 37% (95% CI: 33% – 41%), and for the elbow 37% (95% CI: 31% – 42%), followed by the lower back with 36% (95% CI: 26% – 45%). The baseball pitchers who experienced only shoulder symptoms had an average KJOC score of 80.0 (95% CI: 75.3–84.7) points, while those with only elbow symptoms reported a score of 90.2 (95% CI: 89.2–95.3). On the WOSI questionnaire, baseball pitchers scored an average of 421.2 (95% CI: 200.1 - 642.4) points.

Conclusion

In a cohort of Dutch high school baseball pitchers, one-third reported shoulder and elbow symptoms on the throwing side, with reduced functional status and lower back symptoms. Future efforts should focus on developing preventive strategies through early symptom detection, aiming to prevent symptom progression and, ultimately, the development of severe injuries.

This content is only available as a PDF.