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Little Leaguer's Elbow

more about Little Leaguer's Elbow

  • Little leaguer's elbow is a term that has been used for injuries of the elbow in young athletes due to the overuse of undeveloped muscles. This includes osteochondritis dissecans, loose body (cartilage fragments floating within the joint) and avulsion fracture. The lesions occur as a result of a chronic strain to immature bones and cartilage (growth plates) in the elbows of young children. As the name suggests, young pitchers are commonly affected. Similar lesions may occur in the shoulders of young athletes, called "little leaguer's shoulder," which causes the pain in the shoulder.

  • The onset of symptoms may be acute or gradual
    1. Elbow pain and swelling
    2. Restricted motion of the elbow
    3. A "catching" sensation is felt in the joint of the elbow.

  • Treatment depends on the type of lesion
      1. Rest the affected arm until the pain subsides.
      2. Physical therapy
      3. Loose body -- Arthroscopic surgery
      4. Fracture -- splint or surgery
      5. To prevent an injury of the elbow, it is generally recommended to limit pitching to 6 innings per week with 3 to 4 days of rest between baseball games. It is also dangerous to teach young children to throw trick pitches such as curveballs, screwballs or fork balls. While they may produce immediate results, the long-term effects on the arm are never worth it.

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