Baseball Players with Ulnar Collateral Ligament Tears Demonstrate Decreased Rotator Cuff Strength Compared to Healthy Controls.

Authors: Garrison JC, Johnston C, Conway JE

Ulnar Collateral Ligament (UCL) tears are common in baseball players. Alterations in rotator cuff strength are believed to be associated with injury to the shoulder and/or elbow in baseball players.  Baseball players diagnosed with a UCL tear may demonstrate decreased internal (IR) and external rotator (ER) strength in the throwing arm compared to IR and ER strength of the throwing arm in healthy baseball players. The purpose of this study was to compare isometric rotator cuff strength between a group of baseball players with a UCL tear and a group of healthy controls.   The authors found that in baseball players with UCL tears demonstrated significant rotator cuff strength deficits on their throwing arm IR (p < .001) and ER (p < .001) compared to throwing arm IR and ER in the Healthy (UCL IR = 131.3±31.6 N; Healthy IR = 174.9±20.7 N) (UCL ER = 86.4±18.3 N; Healthy ER = 122.3 ±18.3 N). On the non-throwing arm, the UCL group was weaker in both IR (135.0±31.1 N; p < .001) and ER (93.4±22.8 N; p < .001) than IR (172.1±24.1 N) and ER (122.3±19.1 N) in the Healthy group.  Overall, participants with a UCL tear exhibited lower rotator cuff strength values in both the throwing and non-throwing arms than a healthy cohort.  The results of this study indicate that rotator cuff strength in baseball players with a UCL tear is decreased compared to healthy baseball players. Although these data do not directly provide a cause and effect relationship between rotator cuff weakness and UCL tears, these results may help clinicians by providing a framework for assessment and treatment of this population of baseball players.

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