Manny Machado’s Tennis Elbow Sure Beats Alternative: Sports Doc

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Manny Machado the baseball player has “tennis elbow.” That is both good and bad news for the San Diego Padres.

The formal name for the Machado injury is lateral epicondylitis and it does not always involve playing tennis. This is an overuse injury to the extensor tendons of the wrist/hand at their origin on the outside (lateral or radial side) of the elbow. The name “tennis elbow” comes from a repetitively “wristy” backhand with forces accentuated by the long lever arm of the racket.

The good news is this Machado injury is not at all related to the ulnar collateral ligament or “Tommy John” injury, which occurs on the inside (medial) of the elbow. Bryce Harper has a partial tear of his UCL and this is why he cannot play in the field but continues to DH. Machado who missed Saturday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, has already played through for a few days and should avoid IL and return quickly.

Manny Machado
Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres warms up in the on-deck circle during the game against the San Francisco Giants. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The additional good news is the right elbow is the one that is affected. Because it is not related to the “Tommy John” ligament, it only has a small impact on throws. It likely bothers Machado with grip of the baseball and the bat. If it were on the left or power side for a right-handed batter, it would affect his hitting much more.

The bad news is this is an overuse injury that can linger for weeks. Rest, ice, anti-inflammatories, physical therapy and modalities are the first line of care. Machado will likely wear an elbow strap high on the right forearm to reduce stress. Injections (cortisone or PRP) are possible but that would involve more days off. Surgery is very rarely needed and is a last resort.

No baseball player ever wants an elbow injury but this is the “better” one to have. Machado has and will continue to play through. This injury is a management issue but should not derail the Padres hot start to the season as they continue to wait for the return of Fernando Tatis Jr., which is still at least a month away

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.

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  1. I have that right now from too many pullups in recent months. I’ve laid off almost two weeks and it’s still lingering. For me, it was from overly-pronating the wrist forward on regular pullups(palms facing away) trying to get my head above the bar at the end of sets.

    As a Dodger fan I probably would not be too upset if it was the other injury for Machado. But he wore a Let’s Go Brandon t-shirt earlier this season, so that was a little endearing lol

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