ISAKOS: 2019 Congress in Cancun, Mexico

2019 ISAKOS Biennial Congress ePoster #504


Epidemiology of Elbow Injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes from 2009 to 2015

Jeff D. Hassebrock, MD, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Justin Makovicka, MD, Scottsdale, AZ UNITED STATES
Karan Patel, MD, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Sailesh Tummala, BS, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Andrew Chung, DO, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Thomas Hydrick, BS, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
David E. Hartigan, MD, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Anikar Chhabra, MD, MS, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES
Zach Christopher, MD, Phoenix, AZ UNITED STATES

Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, AZ, UNITED STATES

FDA Status Not Applicable


NCAA athletes suffered elbow injuries at high rates, while men had significantly higher injury rates compared to women.



Little research has focused on the rates and patterns of elbow injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) student athletes. We sought to describe the epidemiology of elbow in NCAA athletes during 2009/2010-2014/2015 academic years.


A convenience sample of NCAA varsity teams from 11 sports was examined to determine the rates and patterns of elbow injuries. Rates and distributions of elbow injuries were identified within the context of sport, event type, season of play, mechanism, time lost from sport, surgical treatment, and injury type. Rates of injury were calculated as the number of injuries divided by the total number of athlete-exposures (AEs). AEs were defined as any student participation in 1 NCAA-sanctioned practice or competition with the inherent risk of exposure to potential injury. Injury rate ratios (IRRs) and injury proportion ratios (IPRs) were then calculated to compare the rates within and between sports by event type, season, sex, mechanism, surgical treatment, and time lost from sport. Comparisons between sexes were only made utilizing sports data that had both male and female samples.


A national estimate of 16,754 elbow injuries occurred over the 5-year period. The resultant overall rate of injury was 50.32 per 10,000 athlete-exposures (AEs). The rate of elbow injuries in men was 17.37 per 10,000 AEs, while women suffered injuries at a rate of 12.81 per 10,000 AEs. In sex-comparable sports, men were 1.15 times more likely to suffer an elbow injury compared to women. Men’s football (168.20 per 10,000 AEs) and women’s softball (23.98 per 10,000 AEs) were the sports with the highest rates of elbow injuries by sex respectively, although the top three highest injury rates overall occurred in men’s football, basketball and wrestling. Elbow injuries were more 2.20 times more likely to occur during competition when compared to practice. Athletes were 1.30 times more likely to sustain an elbow injury during the preseason than compared to post-season and 1.41 times more likely to sustain an injury in season than during the postseason. Contact events were the most common mechanism of injury (51%). For sex comparable sports, men were 2.40 times more likely than woman to have a contact as their injury mechanism (95%CI 2.03-2.84). The majority of athletes missed less than 24hours of participation time (56%) and the minority (4%) of overall injuries went on to have surgical intervention. Elbow sprain/subluxation/hyperextension was the largest injury type at 21% of total injuries.


Analysis of this data demonstrates a rate of relatively high rate of elbow injuries. There was a significantly higher injury rate for men in sex comparable sports and an overall higher injury rate in competition settings. With better understanding of these injuries, prevention and rehabilitation programs can be implemented to hopefully decrease their occurrence.