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Little League Elbow

Youth Pitching
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Added on March 27, 2017

As spring nears, sign-ups for little league baseball and softball teams begin. Spring also brings about an increase in the incidence of adolescent athlete injury. One such injury is Little League Elbow.


Little League elbow is an injury to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow joint, the medial epicondyle, and the lateral compartment and can affect up to 25% of baseball and softball players from the ages of 10-15. Throwing motions put significant valgus stress on the structures of the inner elbow and, because the adolescent's joints are still maturing, that stress can lead to growth plate injuries. The growth plate is not as strong as bone, so repeated throwing without proper rest can cause the growth plate to break down and in some cases, a fracture can occur where the developing bone shifts or breaks off.


The symptoms of Little League elbow are fairly straight forward. Throwing is especially painful and they may say they aren't able to throw as fast or as far as they once could. The elbow is usually sore to the touch, there may be visible swelling, and a loss of elbow motion is not uncommon.


First and foremost, resting the elbow is key. As soon as pain or discomfort is reported by the athlete, throwing should cease and icing the affected up to 20 minutes will help. If pain persists after resting for a few days, see an MD who can make a diagnosis.


Limiting the number of throws a player makes during the week the most important way to prevent overuse elbow injuries. This is why many leagues place pitch or inning limits on pitchers so they do not injure themselves. Warming up before throwing is important to increase blood flow to the area and to gradually loosen up the area. Avoiding throwing certain pitches, like the curveball, is recommended until the growth plates in the elbow have matured. Finally, appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises for the athletes elbow, shoulder, and core musculature are advised.

If your athlete is experiencing any symptoms or if you're looking to avoid future issues, call one of our locations and schedule a consultation with one of our experienced physical therapists!






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