When Tommy John underwent the revolutionary surgical procedure on his left elbow in 1974 that would become his namesake, it was a desperate measure to save a valuable pitcher’s major league career.

More than 40 years later, it has become commonplace for an injury that has reached epidemic proportions at all levels of baseball.

While the focus has been on the rise in major league pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery — about 25 percent of all active MLB players have — the eye-opener came with the 2015 study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine showing the greatest number of procedures in the age 15-19 group — and the rate is increasing at an average of 6 percent a year.

Notably, another study showed the number of soccer-related injuries treated in emergency rooms increased 78 percent from 1990 to 2014 in ages 7 to 17.

This leads us to know that specialization leads to injuries. The increased emphasis on kids specializing in a single sport at a younger age and being pushed to perform on travel teams and to pursue college scholarships and the elusive dream of a pro contract often results in injuries. Children can’t take that repetitive type of consistent pounding on their bones, joints and ligaments without developing an inordinately high rate of injury that ends up ending their career and curtailing what they may have been able to do.

Some place the blame for the youth sports injury epidemic on pressures from parents and the multi-billion-dollar youth sports industry that funnels kids into specialized year-round regimens through a gauntlet of travel and select teams, camps, tournaments and elite showcases.

Many times the cost of participating at this level ends up exceeding the value of the college scholarships that many parents envision — but only a small percentage of teen athletes can obtain. Participating at this level often appears to more stressful than fun.

That is happening most often in warm-weather regions that facilitate year-round play. The 2015 study, “United States Trends in Medial Ulnar Collateral Ligament Reconstruction,” found that players in the South are undergoing Tommy John surgery at a significantly higher rate than any other region.

Dr. Tony Joseph has been certified in sports medicine and family practice since 1990. He has sports medicine experience at the high school, college and professional levels, and served as the team physician for Idaho State University for 18 years. Dr. Joseph is the only member of the American Medical Society of Sports Medicine currently practicing in Southeast Idaho. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society since 2006 and the American Institute of Ultrasound Medicine since 2008. Dr. Joseph is an expert in the field of regenerative medicine, as well.

Dr. Joseph uses ultrasound as an aid in diagnosis and as a guide for non-surgical treatment. It is also used in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tennis elbow, other tendon problems and plantar fasciitis. Dr. Joseph is an expert in Tenex, a groundbreaking treatment for the relief of tendon and soft tissue related pain. This treatment enables him to treat patients earlier in the pain process and with quicker recovery than with other alternatives such as traditional open surgery. For additional information regarding Tenex Health Tx Essentials visit their website at Tenex Health. In addition, Dr. Joseph also specializes in Manos CTR a minimal invasive Carpal Tunnel Release System. Information regarding this latest advancement in carpal tunnel release technology can be found at the Manos CTR website. Dr. Joseph is part of OrthoIdaho, conveniently located at 2240 E Center St, Pocatello, ID 83201. Call for an appointment today at 208-233-2100.