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

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.

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.

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.

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.