DOCTOR'S VIEWS ARCHIVE

Elbow Pain -- Star Pitcher Out

The Chicago Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood will miss the entire 1999 season because of an elbow injury, leaving the Cubs without the pitcher who dazzled baseball in 1998 when he was the National League Rookie of the Year.

The 21-year-old right-hander damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow during his spring training debut this year.

The elbow is a frequently injured joint. Three long bones meet there -- the bone of the upper arm (the humerus), the inner bone of the forearm (the ulna), and the outer bone of the forearm (the radius) -- to allow the elbow to act as a hinge. The radius and ulna also meet in the elbow to allow for rotation of the forearm.

The elbow has two functions. It functions to move the arm like a hinge (forward and backward) and to move the forearm in rotation (twisting outwards and inwards). The major muscle that flexes the elbow hinge is the biceps. The triceps muscle is the major muscle that extends the elbow hinge.

The outside bony portion of the elbow is referred to as the lateral epicondyle and is a part of the humerus bone. The lateral collateral ligament is attached to this area which can be injured, causing inflammation or tendonitis (lateral epicondylitis, or "tennis elbow").

The inner bony portion of the elbow is called the medial epicondyle. The ulnar collateral ligament attaches here and can be injured, causing inflammation or tendonitis (medial epicondylitis, or "golfer's elbow"). It is the ulnar collateral ligament that Kerry Wood injured.