We thought we’d introduce a baseball-related injury we treat here at LB Hand Therapy, Little League Elbow. As Little League Elbow grows in familiarity, multiple organizations are working to increase awareness, assess risks, and address prevention.
What is Little League Elbow?
When throwing repetitively and with excessive force, the ligaments and tendons at the elbow begin to over-stretch and strain. Without time to rest, the straining causes tendons of the forearm musculature to tear away from the bone. This leaves an irritated area on the inside of the elbow (typically at the bony prominence above the joint). The symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness inside the elbow. You may also experiencing limited motion (so your elbow may not straighten as much) or it will lock.
What is the Treatment for Little League Elbow?
Here at LB Hand Therapy, our therapists can treat the pain and swelling in the elbow, while assisting you with in education and awareness of your injury. To progress with therapy treatment, rest will be paramount. Once the pain and swelling subside, your therapist will also address pitching technique and arm strengthening. At the end of this blog you will find Theraband Exercises for the Shoulder. This video has great shoulder exercises to strengthen the throwing muscles of the shoulder. Learning to use larger shoulder and core muscles for throwing will take pressure off of the elbow, as well as prevent damage to it.
How to Prevent Little League Elbow
Education and awareness play a large role in the prevention and treatment of Little League Elbow. The MLB and USA Baseball have joined forces and created a program called PitchSmart. Through extensive research, this team of experts has come together to create pitching guidelines based on the age of the player. These numbers are helpful in determining how much a player should be throwing during the week.
“Our research at ASMI, has shown one definite number one factor for which kids get hurt and which kids don’t. That one factor is overuse…The kids who pitch more than 100 innings in one calendar year are more likely to have a serious elbow or shoulder injury requiring surgery than those who don’t.” –Dr. Glenn Fleisig, Research Director at American Sports Medicine Institute.
As a risk factor, pitch count and innings pitched are more significant than type of pitch thrown and the force of the throw. Also keep in mind, the pitch count number includes warm up pitches. PitchSmart also recommends children do not play both pitcher and catcher since catcher is second-most throwing intensive position.
Are you or your child or adolescent suffering from elbow pain after playing baseball? Hand Therapy could help! Visit our Where to Begin page to become a patient.
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