Symptoms and Treatment of Little Leaguer's Elbow

Little Leaguer's Elbow

If you have a child who’s involved in baseball or softball, you’ve likely heard of the term Little Leaguer’s Elbow. However, you may not know what to do if your child finds themselves experiencing this condition.

When you have a child active in sports that involve consistent use of their arm, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Little Leaguer’s Elbow so you’ll know what to do in the event of an injury.

What is Little Leaguer’s Elbow?

In children, new bone tissue is formed in growth plates, located near the ends of long-growing bones like your arms. Little Leaguer’s Elbow, also known as Medial Apophysitis, is an injury to a growth plate on the inner side of the elbow.

What Causes Little Leaguer’s Elbow?

Little Leaguer’s Elbow is caused by overuse of the arm, usually from too much pitching or throwing. The repeated throwing movement causes wear and tear to the growing bone in the elbow and puts extra stress on the elbow’s ligaments.

The ligaments in your child’s arm are bands of tissue that stabilize the joint. One of the ligaments attaches to the bump on the inner side of their elbow. When that ligament is being used over and over, the nearby growth plate becomes irritated and inflamed, and pieces of bone may even begin to tear away from the elbow, causing long-term damage.

Signs and Symptoms of Little Leaguer’s Elbow

This injury will cause pain on the inner side of your child’s elbow when they throw. You may find that your child cannot throw as hard or as far as they can normally. You might also notice swelling in the elbow, causing difficulty for your child to move it.

Treatment Options for Little Leaguer’s Elbow

The most vital part of treating Little Leaguer’s Elbow is allowing the arm to rest. Depending on the severity of the injury, your child may need to forgo throwing anywhere from 1-3 months, and if there is a break in the bones, surgery may be required.

Your child may also need physical therapy to help rehabilitate the arm properly. Seeking out a professional, pediatric clinic that specializes in treating injuries like Little Leaguer’s Elbow is important to ensure proper care.

How Can I Help Prevent My Child from Suffering from Little Leaguer’s Elbow?

The absolute best way to prevent Little Leaguer’s Elbow is to limit how much your child throws. Even if they pitch, it’s necessary to monitor their usage of their pitching arm to prevent injury. Guidelines have been created to help protect the arms of youth baseball players. In general, follow this rule of thumb:

  • Youth ages 7-8 should throw no more than 50 pitches per game
  • Youth ages 9-10 should throw no more than 75 pitches per game
  • Youth ages 11-12 should throw no more than 85 pitches per game
  • Youth ages 13-16 should throw no more than 95 pitches per game
  • Youth ages 17-18 should throw no more than 105 pitches per game

For a full list of youth pitching guidelines, including required rest days, see this chart

Find Specialized Treatment and Immediate Care at MidAmerica Orthopaedic

Need immediate care for an injury? Avoid a costly trip to the Emergency Room and come to MidAmerica Orthopaedic Immediate Care instead. Our offices are open after hours to ensure you’re able to receive professional help from a dedicated specialist, decreasing your recovery time.

You may also request an appointment with our team of Pediatric Specialists here.

When an Injury Occurs

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