Dr. James Andrews is one of the most renowned orthopedic surgeons in the world. He is the surgeon to the stars in the sports world, and the man you will more than likely see if you need elbow ligament replacement, otherwise known as Tommy John surgery.
Andrews also thinks he’s getting a little too much business it would seem.
The current rash of pitchers having to under go the elbow surgery–12 since spring training began–has Andrews concerned, as the marked rise in these elbow problems is reaching an alarming level.
Per a story from USAToday.com, Andrews is uneasy with the increase in surgeries he’s had to perform.
“It seems like every year I’m doing more and more, so from my standpoint it’s an epidemic. There’s so much information about how good the procedure is that players don’t want to wait. They want it done. So it’s a struggle. There’s always room for conservative treatment.”
Of the 12 surgeries performed this year, three of them have been members of the Atlanta Braves pitching staff, and Tampa Bay Rays starter Matt Moore could be the next to go under the knife if he opts for surgery to repair a tear in his UCL.
When you consider that all of last season there were only 19 such surgeries performed (which was under the average for the prior 10-year period by three), it’s easy to see why Andrews has concern.
Beyond the question of how he can get pitchers to go with rest and rehab rather than surgery, there has yet to be a real explanation of why suddenly this number has had such a drastic spike. Perhaps it’s time to start getting to the root cause of the problem so more pitchers can be saved from going through the injury and the surgery.