In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of organized sports for children, resulting to an increase in sports-related pediatric injuries. Other factors that contribute to the increased number of injuries include single-sport specialization and longer competitive seasons.
One of these injuries is called Little League elbow syndrome, a type of medial elbow injury caused by repetitive throwing motions when playing baseball. This injury is also associated with other sports that involve plenty of throwing.
When making a throwing motion, a lot of stress is placed on the elbow’s growth plate located on the inside of the elbow. This repeated motion results in an overuse injury that frequently happens to little pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders. The medical term for Little League elbow is medial epicondylar apophysis.
Why Children and Adolescents Get Little League Elbow
The growth plates in the elbows of children and adolescents who frequently play the sport have not yet reached full skeletal maturity. Excessive and repeated stress on the growth plates will cause them to crack or tear from the humerus bone. This can negatively impact bone growth, and even cause deformity in the elbow.
Watch Out for the Symptoms
Little League elbow typically happens to an adolescent baseball pitcher aged 9 to 14. Injured baseball players often complain of pains on the insides of their elbow. They also complain of being unable to move their elbow because it feels like it gets stuck or is locked.
A San Diego pediatric orthodontist will be able to diagnose if your kid has Little League elbow or not. Aside from a physical exam, an x-ray or an MRI scan can be conducted to determine the extent of the injury.
To prevent the occurrence of this elbow injury, the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee recommends that pitch count limits should be strictly monitored and regulated, and that pitchers should play no more than nine months to give the body enough time to heal and recover.