What is it?
Little Leaguer’s Elbow is an inflammation of the boney knob on the inside of the elbow (medial epicondyle). This area experiences repetitive pulling forces due to the nature of overhead throwing in sports like baseball, hence the injury’s name. In young children that have not finished growing, this area still has a growth plate, or apophysis, that becomes irritated and inflamed when the body cannot repair the micro tears from repetitive pulling faster than they occur. If left untreated, this inflammation can progress to separation of the growth plate or tendons and muscles being pulled off of the bone, often taking some of the bone with them.
What does it feel like? (Signs and symptoms
Pain will be localized to the inside of the elbow and will occur with throwing and increase as they continue to throw. It will usually present after a sudden increase in the number of pitches, innings played, or intensity of throwing has occurred.
Usually occurs with repetitive, overhead throwing and is associated with poor throwing mechanics, too many pitches, not enough rest, or any combination of the 3.
What should you do?
Stop pitching or throwing when pain begins then ice and rest. If pain persists after resting, see a medical professional for a full examination of the elbow. Little Leaguer’s Elbow can usually be treated conservatively with physical therapy and proper rest.
How to prevent:
- Follow guidelines on pitch counts very closely, counting pitches at practice and games for all the teams the athlete may play on.
- Do not allow athletes to throw pitches above their skill level.
- Consult with pitching coaches to ensure proper mechanics are being utilized.
Cassie Butts, PT, DPT, FAFS, OCS