UTHealth orthopaedic surgeon offers tips to reduce risk of injury from baseball or softball

UT Physicians’ orthopaedic surgeon Pradeep Kodali, M.D., attends to Houston Baptist University junior right fielder Kolby Arnst. Every year, thousands of people in the greater Houston area grab their gloves and head to fields for games of baseball or softball. Whether you are a pro or an amateur, young or not-so-young, there are things you can do to get ready.

UT Physicians’ orthopaedic surgeon Pradeep Kodali, M.D., attends to Houston Baptist University junior right fielder Kolby Arnst.

Baseball and softball are considered relatively safe sports but injuries can occur. Traumatic injuries include fractures caused by sliding into base or being struck by a ball. Overuse injuries include the wear and tear that pitching can place on shoulders and elbows.

Pradeep Kodali, M.D., an orthopaedic surgeon who sees patients at the UT Physicians at Sienna Village, Missouri City, Texas, said good conditioning, protective gear and baseball mechanics can help keep players of all skill levels healthy.

Kodali specializes in sports medicine and is a team physician for the Houston Baptist University Huskies. On Mondays, he can typically be found in a training room of the Huskies attending to athletes including those on the baseball team.

Kodali said throwing a ball over and over can be particularly hard on the soft tissue in the elbow and shoulder. The labrum, cartilage, ligaments and rotator cuff are particularly at risk.

“Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong,” said Kodali, who is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School. “It should be taken as a sign to rest or maybe even see a doctor.”

Kodali, who is on the medical staff of Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital, Memorial Hermann  Sugar Land Hospital and Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, said these tips can help strike out baseball and softball injuries.

  • Get a checkup – Sport physicals can help identify potential medical problems.
  • Get in shape – Good conditioning can help reduce the likelihood of being injured. Run the bases, go to a batting cage and catch fly balls.
  • Stretch before games – This loosens up arms and legs. Before a big league game, you will often see ballplayers jogging in the outfielder, lobbing balls back and forth and stretching their legs.
  • Inspect the baseball field ahead of time – Coaches and players should be on the lookout for holes in the field, as well as bottles and debris that could cause a player to trip.
  • Use proper baseball and softball techniques – There is a certain way to slide into a base and to throw a ball. Coaches can teach the fundamentals.
  • Drink lots of water – This is particularly important in the Lone Star State where temperatures often hit triple digits. Water should be consumed before, during and after exercise. Here are some general guidelines for adults and adolescents. Two to three hours before exercise, in general, drink 15 to 20 ounces of water; 10 to 15 minutes before exercise, eight to 10 ounces is a good idea. As a rule, people should drink about eight to 10 ounces of water for every 10 to 15 minutes of exercise. If exercising longer than an hour and a half, drinking eight to 10 ounces of a sports drink every 15 to 30 minutes is recommended. After exercise, drinking water to replace fluids is suggested.
  • Have a first aid kit handy Bandages and antiseptics should be available to treat cuts and bruises.

Kodali said pitchers are particularly at risk for shoulder and elbow problems, and to reduce the risk of injuries in these athletes, pitch counts and innings pitched should be closely monitored.

Traumatic injuries often warrant an immediate trip to an emergency center. As for injuries linked to overuse, an effective treatment for soreness and inflammation is often rest and relaxation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can help, too.  In rare instances, surgery may be recommended.

Recently moving to the Greater Houston Area from Ohio, Kodali served as an assistant to the team physicians for the Cleveland Browns football team, Cleveland Indians baseball team and Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. In addition, he was an assistant team physician at Cleveland State University and Notre Dame College.

UT Physicians is the medical group practice of UTHealth. Offering primary and specialty care for children, adolescents and adults, the UT Physicians at Sienna Village Health Center is at 8810 Highway 6, Suite 100. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 713-486-1200 or visit www.UTPhysicians.com. Also, visit UT Physicians at Sienna Village on Facebook.

Rob Cahill
Media Hotline: 713-500-3030