John Means is a professional baseball player who has made a name for himself as a pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles. Unfortunately, Means was forced to miss the majority of the 2022 season due to an injury that required Tommy John surgery.
This injury not only had a significant impact on Means’ career but also on the Orioles’ pitching rotation.
In this blog, we will discuss what happened to John Means, the details of his injury, his recovery process, and his return to baseball. We will also highlight the importance of injury prevention and proper rehabilitation for athletes.
What is Tommy John’s Surgery?
Tommy John surgery is a surgical procedure used to repair a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the elbow. The surgery is named after the first baseball player to undergo the procedure, Tommy John, in 1974.
The purpose of Tommy John surgery is to replace the damaged or torn UCL with a tendon from another part of the patient’s body or from a donor. This tendon is then attached to the bone with sutures or screws.
The most common cause of UCL tears among baseball players is the repetitive stress placed on the elbow during pitching. The repeated throwing motion puts a significant strain on the UCL, causing it to weaken over time.
Other factors that can contribute to UCL tears include poor pitching mechanics, inadequate warm-up, and overuse.
During the surgery, the patient is placed under general anesthesia, and an incision is made on the inside of the elbow. The surgeon then identifies the damaged UCL and removes any frayed or damaged tissue.
A hole is drilled in the ulna and humerus bones, and the new tendon is threaded through these holes and attached to the bones with sutures or screws. The incision is then closed, and the patient is given time to recover and rehabilitate the elbow.
John Means’ Injury
John Means’ injury was a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of his left elbow, which was diagnosed in April of 2022. The UCL tear is a common injury among baseball pitchers and is often caused by the repetitive stress of throwing.
The severity of Means’ injury was significant, and it required reconstructive surgery, also known as Tommy John surgery. The UCL tear was severe enough that it could not heal on its own, and the ligament needed to be replaced with a tendon from another part of Means’ body or from a donor.
The purpose of the surgery was to restore stability to the elbow joint and allow Means to return to full strength and functionality.
After the surgery, Means was expected to be out of play for approximately 12 to 16 months, as the recovery and rehabilitation process for Tommy John surgery is a lengthy one.
This meant that Means would miss the majority of the 2022 season and potentially part of the 2023 season, depending on his recovery progress. However, it is worth noting that every athlete’s recovery is different, and Means’ return to play timeline may vary.
The recovery process for Tommy John surgery is a lengthy one, typically lasting between 12 and 16 months. The initial phase of recovery involves rest and immobilization of the elbow, followed by physical therapy and rehabilitation to regain strength and flexibility.
The goal of the rehabilitation process is to gradually reintroduce the athlete to throwing activities and eventually return them to their pre-injury level of play.
In John Means’ case, his recovery timeline was estimated to be around 12 to 16 months. He began his rehabilitation process shortly after his surgery, working with a team of medical professionals to gradually reintroduce throwing activities and regain strength and flexibility in his elbow.
Means’ rehabilitation process involved a combination of physical therapy, range-of-motion exercises, and throwing exercises, all under the guidance of his medical team.
While Means’ recovery process progressed relatively smoothly, he did experience a minor setback in September of 2022, when he experienced shoulder soreness during a throwing session. This setback required Means to take a break from throwing and modify his rehabilitation program to address the shoulder issue.
However, Means was able to resume his throwing program after a brief rest period, and his recovery has continued since then without any significant setbacks or complications.
Means’ Return to Baseball
John Means made his return to the Orioles’ pitching rotation on April 30th, 2023, just over a year after his Tommy John surgery. His return was highly anticipated by both the Orioles organization and their fans, as Means had established himself as one of the team’s top pitchers prior to his injury.
Since returning to the field, Means has performed well, showing no signs of lingering effects from his surgery. In his first start of the 2023 season, he pitched six innings, giving up only one run and striking out six batters.
He has since made several more starts for the Orioles, consistently pitching well and helping the team compete in games.
While Means’ performance on the field has been promising, there are still ongoing concerns related to his injury. The recovery process for Tommy John surgery is a lengthy one, and it can take time for an athlete to regain their pre-injury form.
Additionally, there is always a risk of re-injury, particularly during the early stages of the recovery process. As such, the Orioles and Means’ medical team will likely continue to monitor his progress closely and make adjustments to his throwing program as needed to ensure that he remains healthy and effective on the mound.
Overall, though, Means’ return to the Orioles’ pitching rotation is a positive development for the team and their fans, and it will be exciting to see how he continues to perform as he works his way back to full strength.
John Means’ Injury and Tommy John Surgery
|Tear in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of the left elbow
|Tommy John surgery, a reconstructive surgery to replace the damaged UCL with a tendon from another part of the body or a donor
|Typically 12-16 months
|Return to Play
|April 30, 2023
|Strong performance since returning to the field
|Ongoing concerns related to re-injury and the early stages of the recovery process
|Proper pitching mechanics, warm-up, and stretching routine can reduce the risk of injury
|Rest, physical therapy, and other non-surgical treatments may be effective for some athletes
|Generally high, with most athletes able to return to pre-injury level of play after lengthy rehabilitation process
Note: This table is not exhaustive and is intended to provide a brief overview of the key points related to John Means’ injury and Tommy John surgery.
What are the symptoms of a UCL tear in the elbow?
Symptoms of a UCL tear can include pain on the inside of the elbow, decreased throwing velocity or accuracy, and a feeling of instability in the elbow joint.
How common is Tommy John’s surgery among baseball players?
Tommy John surgery is relatively common among baseball players, particularly pitchers. It is estimated that about one-third of major league pitchers have undergone the procedure at some point in their careers.
Can Tommy John’s surgery be prevented?
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent a UCL tear, there are steps that athletes can take to reduce their risk of injury. These include maintaining proper pitching mechanics, following a proper warm-up and stretching routine, and avoiding overuse.
Are there any alternative treatments for a UCL tear besides surgery?
While surgery is the most common treatment for a UCL tear, some athletes may be able to manage the injury with rest, physical therapy, and other non-surgical treatments. However, these treatments may not be effective for all athletes, and surgery may be necessary in some cases.
What is the success rate of Tommy John surgery?
The success rate of Tommy John surgery is generally high, with most athletes able to return to their pre-injury level of play after a lengthy rehabilitation process. However, there is always a risk of complications or re-injury, and recovery times can vary depending on the severity of the injury and other factors.
John Means’ injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery forced him to miss most of the 2022 baseball season. The surgery, which replaces a torn UCL with a tendon from another part of the body or a donor, is a common procedure for baseball pitchers with UCL tears.
Means’ injury was severe enough that it required reconstructive surgery, which kept him out of play for over a year. Since his return to the Orioles’ pitching rotation in April of 2023, Means has performed well, showing no signs of lingering effects from his surgery.
While there are still ongoing concerns related to his injury, his strong performance is a positive development for the Orioles and their fans. Overall, Means’ journey highlights the importance of injury prevention and proper rehabilitation for athletes.
Tommy John’s surgery is a significant procedure with a lengthy recovery time, and it is essential that athletes receive the necessary support and guidance to ensure a safe and successful return to play. We wish John Means continued success and health as he continues to work his way back to full strength.