New paper that provides insight on baseball players longer arms

It’s been stated empirically that baseball players have longer throwing arms than non-throwing arms.

The following study suggests that baseball actually hinders growth in the growth plate in adolescents.  Now this could mean that either what the scientist interpret as growth hinderence is actually growth stimulation or that the baseball players having longer arms is not related to the growth plate at all and is longitudinal bone growth by other means which would be very promising for adult longitudinal bone growth.

Cartilage degeneration at symptomatic persistent olecranon physis in adolescent baseball players.

“Elbow overuse injuries are common in adolescent baseball players, but symptomatic persistent olecranon physis is rare, and its pathogenesis remains unclear. Purpose. To examine the histopathological and imaging findings of advanced persistent olecranon physis. Methods. The olecranon physes of 2 baseball pitchers, aged 14 and 15 years,{only two players were analyzed so perhaps the damage to the growth plate was an outlier.  There’s also selection bias where they likely sought out those who had injury.} were examined by preoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and surgical specimens were examined histologically. Results. T2-weighted MRI revealed alterations in the intrachondral signal intensity possibly related to collagen degeneration and increased free water content. Histological findings of specimens stained with hematoxylin-eosin showed complete disorganization of the cartilage structure, hypocellularity, chondrocyte cluster formation, and moderately reduced staining. All these findings are hallmarks of osteoarthritis and are suggestive of cartilage degeneration. Conclusion. Growth plate degeneration was evident in advanced cases of symptomatic persistent olecranon physis. These findings contribute to understanding the pathogenesis of this disease.”

I wasn’t able to copy and paste the image but if you at figure 2 you can examine the following:

“Figure 2: (a) Growth plate remnant with a sclerotic margin. Moderate reduction in hematoxylin-eosin staining and disorientation of chondron columns in the olecranon physis. (b) Magnified view showing a decreased number of chondrocytes in the lesion. (c) Chondrocyte cluster formation in the lesion. (d) Proliferating cell nuclear antigen-positive cells in a chondrocyte cluster. Bars: 200 μm (a), 100 μm (b), 50 μm (c), and 20 μm (d).”

The key factor is whether these athletes throwing arm had stunted growth.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any long term studies on this.  And I couldn’t find any studies that show whether moderate pitching without overuse increases growth plate disorganization.

Does anyone know of anyone with elbow overuse due to pitching and whether it stunted growth in their dominant arm?

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