Leon E. Popovitz, MD
Top-Rated Orthopedic Surgeon
Specializing in Arthroscopic Surgery of the Shoulder & Knee.
For appointments 212.759.4553

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Matt Harvey on 15 Day DL with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

There has been no shortage of speculation this year about why “The Dark Knight” has not been pitching to the level Mets fans have become accustomed to. After returning from Tommy John Surgery (ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction) in 2015, Harvey pitched his way to a 13-8 record with a 2.71 ERA.  As the 2016 season began the Mets hoped Matt Harvey would continue his dominance as arguably the best pitcher in the NL East. However, Harvey’s 2016 season got off to a rocky start and many fans began to suspect that Harvey pushed himself to hard after his Tommy John Surgery.

This week, after pitching to a 4-10 record and an 4.86 ERA, the Mets have decided to place Harvey on the 15 DL, citing “discomfort in his shoulder”. Later that day, it was reported that Harvey may be suffering from what is known as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.  

This condition is a number of possible disorders that may occur when blood vessels or nerves are compressed in the thoracic cavity, which is located between the collarbone and first rib. A number of sensitive structures run through the thoracic cavity, including the brachial plexus, a group of nerves connected to the neck and arms, the subclavian vein, which delivers blood to our jugular, and the subclavian arteries, which provide blood to the arms. Pressure on any of these body parts can cause an array of painful, and sometimes dangerous, symptoms.

For a pitcher, this condition will certainly create difficulty during the 4 phases of the throwing motion and result in loss of velocity and/or control, which may explain Matt Harvey’s less than stellar performances this year. Thoracic Outlet Syndrome almost always causes chronic sharp or dull pain. It is most often present in the lower arm and hand, but can also be felt in the neck, armpit region, upper arm, and upper back. TOS can be recognized by a number of symptoms. These include:

  • Numbness or tingling in arms and fingers
  • Weakening grip
  • Discoloration of the hand
  • Arm pain and swelling (due to blood clots)
  • Blot clots in upper body
  • Weak or no pulse in the arm
  • Cold fingers, hands or arms
  • Weakness of arm or neck
  • Throbbing lump near your collarbone

Depending on the location and severity of the condition, treatment can range from physical therapy and medications to a surgical procedure, similar to the one St Louis Cardinals’ left-hander Jamie Garcia underwent in 2014. Only time will tell if this latest diagnosis will get to the root of Harvey’s performance issues, or if we have already seen the best The Dark Knight has to offer.

NY Bone and Joint Specialists is a top rated, private Orthopedic and Sports Medicine practice in with locations in New York City, Hoboken and Englewood, NJ. The Orthopedic SurgeryPhysical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and Pain Management specialists routinely perform surgical and non-surgical treatments for professional athletes from across the United States and various other countries. 

Dr. Leon Popovitz and Dr. Michael Mizhiritsky, along with their team of best in class orthopedic physicians, are known for their exemplary orthopedic surgical skill and best rated physical medicine and rehabilitation program. This, along with their top in-office physical therapy and long-term sports rehabilitation processes, leads to athletes of all levels returning to their top physical potential. Contact us today to schedule a consult!


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