St. Louis Cardinals’ Alex Reyes Returns To DL with a Lat Strain

St. Louis Cardinals’ Alex Reyes Returns To DL with a Lat Strain

St. Louis Cardinals’ starting pitcher Alex Reyes is unfortunately back on the disabled list (DL) with a lat strain. He pitched only four innings against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 30, 2018.

Although Reyes initially told reporters after the game that he was not worried about the injury at the time, Cardinals’ general manager Michael Girsch told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the strain is “significant.” Girsch said the pitcher will miss at least a few games.

This is only the latest injury to plague Reyes. The May 30th game was Reyes’ return to baseball after being on the DL since September 2016 for a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which required Tommy John Surgery.

What Is A Lat Strain?

A lat strain occurs when the latissimus dorsi is overstretched or torn. The latissimus dorsi is the broadest muscle of the back, and runs all the way from the top of the hip to the front of the upper arm near the shoulder’s ball-and-socket joint.

Some activities can increase the risk of a lat strain, including:

  • sports that require throwing motions, like baseball and softball
  • rowing
  • swimming
  • swinging a baseball bat or tennis racket
  • chopping wood
  • chin-ups and push-ups
  • activities that require constant, repeated lifting of the shoulders

Symptoms of a lat strain include:

  • pain below the shoulder blade
  • pain at the front of the shoulder
  • pain in the mid-back and down the side
  • numbness, tingling, and/or aching that extends down the arm to the third and fourth fingers
  • steady, constant pain (even when muscle is at rest)
  • Pain when reaching forward or lifting arms over your head

Lat strains are graded by severity. The three grades of strains are:

  • Grade 1: mild strain in which the muscle is overstretched but not torn.
  • Grade 2: moderate strain in which the muscle is partially torn.
  • Grade 3: severe strain in which the muscle is completely torn, or ruptured

Treatment and Recovery

Initial treatment for a lat strain involves a combination of treatments known as the RICE method. The acronym RICE stands for:

  • Rest: rest the injured muscle
  • Ice: apply ice for 20 minutes every hour when awake
  • Compression: wrap affected area with an Ace bandage to reduce inflammation
  • Elevation: elevate your back by sitting in a recliner, sofa, or upright chair to enhance the healing process

Treatment primarily consists of rest to allow time for proper healing. Ultrasound, light therapy, and electric stimulation can also be used to promote the healing of tissue. Physical therapy and exercise can restore the muscle’s strength and flexibility.

In cases where the muscle is completely torn, surgery may be required. Surgery can, in some cases, involve repairing the torn muscle with sutures. More severe cases may warrant a full latissimus dorsi reconstruction, in which case the torn muscle is removed and a donor tendon (either from the patient’s own body or a cadaver) is used to replace it.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and over-the-counter pain medications can help manage the pain. If the pain is too uncomfortable, your doctor may prescribe pain medication or muscle relaxants to provide you with some relief.

Recovery time for lat strains can range from a month to a year, depending on the severity of the injury and whether surgery is required.

Hope for Reyes

Girsch told the Post-Dispatch that they are still gathering information about the injury and don’t have an estimate yet for Reyes’ return.

There is still hope for Reyes’ pitching career, however. Other baseball pitchers have recovered from lat strains and returned from the DL to enjoy successful pitching careers. Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox suffered a lat strain in 2010 and required surgery. Peavy was on the DL for over a year, but was able to return to the sport and became an All-Star in 2012.

We Can Help

Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine is dedicated to providing exceptional care to people of all ages. Our goal is to relieve pain and restore mobility and function so that you can return to your normal activities as quickly as possible. Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment today.