Little Leaguer’s elbow, Little Leaguer’s shoulder

Overuse injuries are common in athletes of all ages. The major cause of overuse injuries is incorrect training (too much too soon or improper technique). The pediatric athlete is unique in that their bones are still growing. Bone growth itself results in stress on the surrounding tendons and ligaments. We cannot control the rate of bone growth in the growing child. The timing of the growth spurt is primarily dependent on genetic factors. Each child is unique.

Baseball season is already upon us. Let’s talk about two common overuse injuries in youth baseball.

Little Leaguer’s elbow is an overuse injury that can develop into a stress fracture around the elbow joint. In some cases the elbow develops bone and cartilage loose bodies in the joint as a result of repetitive stress of throwing a baseball.

Little Leaguer’s shoulder is an overuse injury that can progress to a stress fracture of the proximal humerus growth plate (arm bone).

A past baseball player (1974 Rummel state camps), father of four athletic sons and youth baseball coach for over 10 years, I have observed many baseball games and witnessed spectator advice on how to tough out a painful shoulder or elbow.

As an orthopedic surgeon, I have treated many major leaguers, minor leaguers and also Little Leaguers. I offer you some simple advice.

First, start a training program early and progress slowly (incorporate proper stretching, strengthening, and proper technique). Do not throw with pain (it only makes it worse). And last, the key is rest, rest, rest (early institution of rest for a painful shoulder or elbow is the key to success.

Author
Luis M. Espinoza MD Dr. Espinoza served as the AAA Team Doctor for the the New Orleans Zephyrs/BabyCakes since joining the Orthopedic Center for Sports Medicine in 2003. He is double board certified in General Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine.

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