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Son was pitching in a summer league game just over a week ago. Top of 2nd, bases loaded. He throws the pitch, gets a come-backer to the mound, and can't throw the ball to the catcher. Ends up almost underhanding it from 10' away. Play ends, son signals coach that he's out, and walks disgustedly to the dugout. Assistant coach calls me and asks for ice.

Son told me that he felt a "pop" in his elbow on that last pitch, and that he couldn't throw the ball from that point on. Elbow was immediately swollen, and has hurt from that point on. According to son, there was no pain leading up to that pitch. Trip the next day to his doctor turns into a trip today to TOSH (The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital). His doc felt that it was Tommy John, but she had no idea how severe. Referred son to TOSH. Orthopedic surgeon did his exam...same diagnosis. MRI was done today; we'll receive the results Thursday in a follow-up/pre-op meeting. Ortho is sure of his diagnosis...just wants the MRI to know whether it is a partial or full tear. Then we can schedule the surgery.

When the surgeon's assistant handed son the post-op rehab schedule, and son had a chance to read it, tears filled his eyes. 18 months to get back to where he was last Monday before that pitch.

I'll post more as we go...
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Partial tears do not always require surgery. Junior currently has a 50% tear and the treatment plan is rest and it will likely heal on its own. However, partial tears usually do not "pop", but they can, or cause a complete inability to throw a ball immediately.

Good luck to your son.
Last edited by CPLZ
When the surgeon's assistant handed son the post-op rehab schedule, and son had a chance to read it, tears filled his eyes. 18 months to get back to where he was last Monday before that pitch.

18 months? You may want to do some looking around.. That seems like a long time. I'll look at the materials I have, but I'm thinking more around 12 months and not 18.

Feeling a "pop" is not always an accurate way of attempting to diagnose an injury. Wait for the MRI and go from there..

Sorry to hear about your son. I know he (and you) have got to be very disappointed. My son missed his Sophomore season at college due to an injury and I know how that little time was extremely hard to deal with.

If you haven't already, Id find a way to get to Dr. James Andrews in Alabama. IMO, the best in the business when it comes to TJ surgery. He works on all the MLB players who have TJ.

Good luck.

i agree with ygd. if surgery is needed, call dr andrews. if you have insurance it should pay for it. just some travel expence.

my son had tj there in 06. throwing at 6-8 months on the mound at 12 months. mental rehab can be the bigger issue,son was never really the same pitcher. velocity came back,feel for pitches took longer.
I appreciate all the info. That's why I have loved the HSBBWeb since finding it.

20dad and Bulldog19: 9-12 months to be back on the mound, but not necessarily throwing competitively. The 18-month mark is allowing a gradual build-up to pre-injury pitch counts, as well as getting the "feel" of each pitch and the control back. He could be back on the mound in 12 (best-case scenario); but it could take longer. From the information I've found, 18 months is more realistic for an amateur pitcher to be "fully" back.

YGD: Thank you. Any advice on handling a HS athlete's angst at being injured instead of on the field is appreciated. As far as Dr. Andrews is concerned: he is considered one of the best. If I or my wife feel that a 2nd opinion is needed, that's probably where we'll go. However, TOSH handles sports injuries and orthopedic surgeries every day, including professional and olympic athletes. Our son's surgeon comes highly recommended. Not only by son's physician and physical therapist, but also by coaches and parents of players who have seen him in the past. So, for now, we'll stay local.

CPLZ: Thank you. Part of the reason for the current MRI is to check for past scar tissue as well as the extent of the injury. Surgeon believes that son's tendonitis last year may have been an injury to the ligament instead. He is known for being conservative; and has a very good track record with non-surgical recoveries. Therefore, if he's leaning towards surgery, he either truly believes it is warranted; or the note is coming due on his houseboat (just kidding on that last one).

Thanks again to each of you. The advice and comments from the experienced "hands" here are what makes this place so special.
My son had TJ surgery about 15 months ago. Fall of his freshman year in college he felt severe pain in the elbow, rehabbed through winter and unfortunately felt the infamous "pop" in his elbow in February 2009. Surgery in March 2009. He started pitching (not very well) off the mound at 12 months - one inning at a time. Now can go about 60-70 pitches per outing. His velocity is coming back but his control is struggling. From a kid who in high school rarely walked a batter, now he is happy if he only walks one or two per inning. The mental part is the toughest - dealing with the frustration of the prolonged rehab and not being the same pitcher "as before". The only thing that we as parents can do is to be emotionally supportive and reassuring that it will get better.
catcher27mom, thank you for sharing your son's experience. His pitching seems to mirror what many here and in other areas say is quite normal. And, you're right, the best we as parents can do is to be there for them.

20dad, thank you. You are also right. The best advice we're getting from virtually everyone is to allow the rehab to proceed at its own pace. We need to take a very long view and allow the ligament to heal and "learn" its new job. If that means son's senior year looks very different from what we expected before this...then that is the way it has to be.
From my small sample, your son should have full range of motion in about 6-8 weeks.Bottom Line: Be patient. Allow the tendon replacement to get stronger and stronger thru rehab.

Bear, that is both good and bad (small grin). Regaining the full range of motion will be the first positive. Having to train the tendon to become a ligament, and the strength and conditioning, will be the true test.
Update: Surgery went well yesterday. The surgeon had to use a donor tendon. He said that son's was just too short to use doubled-up. Surgeon stated that the new ligament is the perfect length...he used the screws in order to get it as tight as possible, and he also used the remaining ends of the old ligament to weave into the new. From what I've read, using the old ligament in this way helps the new ligament to send the "spatial" messages to the brain. This allows the brain to know what position the elbow is in at all times, without the new ligament having to "learn" to send that information.

Son is very sore, and bandaged like a mummy <grin>, but is up and about. Hinged brace in about 10-14 days, and then son can start range of motion therapy.

Again, thank you to everyone for your advice and well-wishes.

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