Little League Elbow
John Sheehan, M.D. Pediatric Orthopaedics
Little League elbow is really an overuse injury of the elbow. It's generally in athletes that are throwing athletes. I really see it mostly with kids who play baseball, especially pitchers, sometimes catchers but the pitchers because they do so much repetitive throwing. So they end up with various types of injuries around their elbow.
What are the symptoms of Little League elbow?
The biggest symptom is really pain. That's usually the first one and it's generally soreness on the inside of the elbow but it can also be on the outside. You may notice swelling. You may notice some cracking or popping sensations or loss of motion, also.
How is Little League elbow treated?
The first steps are rest. Many times it's four to six weeks. So that can be a very hard thing for the parents and the child that they have to take so much time off and spend so much effort treating it. As you rest it you can, many times, do some physical therapy to strengthen the muscles.
How can Little League elbow be prevented?
You really have to tell them that they really have to limit their pitches. They have to track it quite well. That's an incredibly hard problem nowadays because many kids are playing on two and three teams. Their bodies are growing and they just can't handle the stress.
Kids, probably below 13 or 14, really shouldn't be spending too much time learning any of the fancier pitches. When the growth plates are still open, any of the fancier type pitches, like a curveball, are more dangerous. They put more stress on the elbow. And also it's important to have a throwing evaluation so that parents and the child know they're not throwing incorrectly.