Do Professional Baseball Players With a Higher Valgus Carrying Angle Have an Increased Risk of Shoulder and Elbow Injuries?

Orthop J Sports Med. 2019 Aug 27;7(8):2325967119866734. doi: 10.1177/2325967119866734. eCollection 2019 Aug.


Background: There are many risk factors for shoulder and elbow injuries in professional baseball pitchers. The elbow carrying angle has not been studied as a potential risk factor.

Purpose/hypothesis: The aim of this study was to determine whether elbow carrying angle is a risk factor for shoulder or elbow injuries in professional baseball pitchers. We hypothesized that pitchers with a higher elbow carrying angle would be less likely to sustain an injury during the season than pitchers with a lower elbow carrying angle.

Study design: Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: All professional pitchers for a single baseball club during the 2018 season had the carrying angle of both elbows measured at spring training by a single examiner. The pitchers were followed prospectively throughout the season. Shoulder and elbow injuries were recorded prospectively.

Results: A total of 52 pitchers (21 [40%] Major League Baseball and 31 [60%] Minor League Baseball) were included. During the season, 23 (44%) pitchers became injured. The mean carrying angle in the throwing arm was 12.5° ± 4.2° versus 9.9° ± 2.8° in the nonthrowing arm (P < .001). Comparing the injured and noninjured groups, there were no differences in level of play (P = .870), throwing hand dominance (P = .683), batting hand dominance (P = .554), throwing-side carrying angle (P = .373), nonthrowing-side carrying angle (P = .773), or side-to-side difference in carrying angle (P = .481).

Conclusion: The elbow carrying angle was not associated with an injury risk during a single season in professional baseball pitchers.

Keywords: Major League Baseball (MLB); carrying angle; elbow; injury prevention; pitcher; shoulder.