Effect of Younger Starting Pitching Age on Humeral Retrotorsion in Baseball Pitchers With an Ulnar Collateral Ligament Injury

Sean M. Kennedy*, Joseph P. Hannon, John E. Conway, Kalyssa Creed, J. Craig Garrison

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Increased humeral retrotorsion (HRT) has been found to be a risk factor for ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tears in baseball players. Recent work has demonstrated the age of 11 years as a potential watershed age for HRT development. Hypothesis: In a group of baseball pitchers with UCL injuries, athletes who started pitching before the age of 10 years will demonstrate significantly more dominant limb humeral retrotorsion (DHRT) when compared with a group of baseball pitchers who reported starting pitching at 10 years or older. Study Design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 3. Methods: A total of 84 baseball pitchers with a diagnosed UCL injury were divided into 2 groups based upon the age at which participants began pitching: 33 players reporting a starting pitching age of 10 years or older (group 1) were compared with 51 baseball pitchers reporting a starting pitching age under 10 years (group 2). Participants’ DHRT and nondominant limb humeral retrotorsion (NDHRT) were measured using diagnostic ultrasound. Independent t tests were run to compare mean group differences of all patient data, starting pitching age, age at time of injury, DHRT, NDHRT, and humeral retrotorsion difference (HRTdiff). Results: There were no significant differences between groups with regard to age at time of injury, height, weight, or playing years’ experience. There was a statistically significant difference in the participant-reported starting pitching age. Significant differences between groups were noted for DHRT (group 1: 20.0°± 9.4°, group 2: 14.5°± 10.3°, P =.015) and for NDHRT (group 1: 38.6°± 8.8°, group 2: 32.9°± 9.5°, P =.007). No significant differences between groups were found for HRTdiff (P =.940). Conclusion: Baseball pitchers with a UCL injury who reported a starting pitching age younger than 10 years demonstrated significantly greater DHRT and NDHRT when compared with UCL-injured baseball pitchers who reported a starting pitching age at 10 years or later. The results of this study demonstrate that a younger starting pitching age results in increased HRT in players with UCL injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1160-1165
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume49
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • baseball
  • humeral retrotorsion
  • overhead athlete
  • ulnar collateral ligament

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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