What is it?
“Little League Elbow” is a disorder of the inner portion of the elbow that affects young athletes.
In this condition the growth plate is irritated and may even separate from the bone. It is caused by repetitive stress on the elbow from throwing too many pitches or possibly using improper mechanics while throwing. The condition is more common in younger athletes who throw curve balls. Other risk factors include throwing more than 80 pitches per game, competitive pitching 8 months or more per year, and continuing to throw despite arm pain and fatigue. This condition is not limited to pitchers, it may also be seen in catchers, infielders, and outfielders.
What are the Symptoms?
Young athletes may complain of pain in their throwing arm. The pain is typically located on the inside portion of the elbow. Athletes may experience more severe pain during the cocking phase of throwing. May also notice decreased throwing speed, accuracy, and distance.
When Should I See My Doctor?
If your child has pain which lasts for several days that it not relieved with rest. Also if you or your child’s coach notice a change in their throwing.
How Can I Prevent Little League Elbow?
It is important to have proper technique while throwing. Throwing curve balls or breaking balls should be discouraged before the age of 14. Coaches and parents should ensure proper rest between outings. Athletes who are pitching in more than one league should be watched cautiously. Parents and coaches should make sure that the athlete is adhering to pitch counts which are appropriate to age.
When Can I Return to Play?
Patients often require 4-6 weeks of rest and rehabilitation. Once pain free the athlete should begin a graduated throwing program before returning to sports.