Preventing Your Child From Getting Little League Elbow

Little League elbow describes pain in the elbow that develops in young athletes who throw a lot. Of course, Little League elbow affects pitchers, but any athlete who uses their arm often can suffer the injury. 

Little League elbow occurs due to overuse of the tissues of the joint. It may be irritation and inflammation of the tendon, but could also be caused by problems in the bones or by a tear in a ligament at the elbow. 

Children are especially vulnerable to elbow joint problems when they start competitive play at an early age. 

When Little League begins, usually around age 10-11, your child’s growth plates have likely not fully matured. Their growth plates haven’t closed yet, meaning they’re more vulnerable to bony problems and tendon issues from overthrowing. The growth plates are an issue because they are weaker and more vulnerable to injury than a fully developed bone. 

At Maryland Orthopedics Specialists, our board-certified orthopedists have expertise in treating Little League elbow, so your child gets back to the mound as soon as possible. 

But it’s even better to avoid the injury from happening in the first place. In rare, but serious, cases of Little League elbow, a child’s pitching arm is injured for life.

Here’s what you should do to help keep your child from experiencing Little League elbow.

Make rest a priority

Check in with your young athlete regularly to make sure they’re feeling OK. If they had an intense practice, it’s good to rest the next day. And never let your child practice throwing if they complain of soreness, fatigue, or pain.

If your child does complain of soreness or is diagnosed with Little League elbow, they may need to take a full break from throwing for three months to a full year. 

Keep to pitching limits

The team should enforce pitch limits for your child. Pitch limits are the guidelines about many pitches a child should make during practice and the types appropriate for them. Exactly what’s entailed in this limit depends on your child’s age. 

If your child plays for more than one team or more than one sport, communicate with the coaches to ensure they’re not overdoing it.

Respond promptly to pain

If your child complains of soreness, even mild soreness, that doesn’t respond to rest, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists. Early intervention gives your child a better chance of recovery without complex interventions. 

We can evaluate your child’s throwing form and offer physical therapy exercises to help improve their mechanics and get them back to pitching without pain.

Cross-train

Your child may be passionate about baseball (or another throwing sport), but variety is key to their health. 

In the off-season, encourage them to play another sport or just enjoy casual physical activity instead of target-training. This helps keep them well-rounded and reduces the risk that they’ll burn out or get injured. 

When your child is a competitive athlete, you need a trusted care team available to help with inevitable sports injuries. Call us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists for an appointment so your child gets the preventive and proactive care they need to keep throwing, running, and jumping injury-free. Our offices are in Germantown and Bethesda, Maryland.

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