Little League Elbow
- Elbow pain is reported to affect between 20-26% of the little league baseball players in America. Making little league elbow the most common injury in little league baseball.
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Brief overview of the episode:
Elbow pain is reported to present in 20-25% of little leaguers. That is a really significant number. When up to a quarter all participants in an activity deal with a similar injury then it is certainly time to look into ways to limit that.
Little league elbow is due to repetative valgus overload due to the throwing motion. This affects pitcher more than position players but that does not rule out position players. Most often pain is located on the inside of the elbow. It can also present on the outside and the back as well.
This pain pattern occurs because there is tension strain on the medial structures of the elbow. The medial epicondyle, epicondylar apophyasis and the collateral ligament are tensioned and become stressed. On the lateral aspect of the elbow there are compressive forces on the radial head and the capitellum. More concerning is the stress that overhead throwing places on the growth plate. Damage to the growth plate can result in permanent deformation.
Most kids will present with pain, decreased throwing distance and velocity, swelling, loss of elbow range of motion (specifically straightening the elbow) and on x-ray there is often a change present. Recover times vary from 6 weeks to 3 months depending on the extent of damage.
The best treatment is also the best prevention. Work on mechanics, pitch counts, strengthening of the arm, shoulder and para-scapular muscles, as well as the rotator cuff, core and legs. It is also a good idea to avoid year round participation in a single sport.
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