Randon Hall, MD
MLB Orioles - Jonathan Schoop's Elbow Bursitis Should Not Be an Issue
SCHOOP LIKELY HAS A CASE OF OLECRANON BURSITIS
Jonathan Schoop, second baseman for the Baltimore Orioles, was diagnosed with elbow bursitis last week. Initial reports stated he had an elbow injury, which would be a big concern for the 2017 All-Star. Based on the descriptions in the media, Schoop likely developed olecranon bursitis. Bursitis is swelling and inflammation of a very thin fluid filled sac, called a bursa. The purpose of a bursa is to protect a bony prominence against friction and rubbing. In particular, olecranon bursitis is located at the bony point of one's elbow. We have bursas throughout our body, but they are mostly unnoticed until they become inflamed or infected. Generally speaking, this type of bursa does not develop from over throwing or batting. The most common mechanism is from direct contact, either through a direct trauma or from repetitive pressure to the area. This type of injury can be seen often in grappling sports.
WHY DID THEY DRAIN HIS ELBOW?
The treatment for olecranon bursitis is typically aggressive icing and compression to the area, while maintaining good range of motion. It is possible for an olecranon bursitis to become infected, usually when there is an open cut or wound in the area. In that case, medical providers would also add an antibiotic to treat the condition. The thing I find a bit unusual in this case, is the fact that he had the bursa drained. The usual teaching for a non-infected olecranon bursa is not to drain it, because that can actually put it at risk for infection. There is research that suggests that drainage of the olecranon bursa can speed up recovery, however I would consider that controversial. If a drainage procedure is done, another option is to inject a cortisone medication and numbing medication back into the bursa. If the bursitis is chronic and recurrent, surgical removal is a possibility.
RETURN TO PLAY SHOULD BE RELATIVELY SHORT
The good news is that the position of the bursa really should not have a dramatic effect on a baseball player once he returns back to normal. There should be no long term impact on Jonathan's throwing or batting. The length of time for full return to play will depend on if it is infected or not, but I would say a couple of weeks to get everything settled down. My guess is, if this was the regular season he would return much more quickly, but its only spring training.
Photo by Greg Younger under creative commons license