Little League Elbow

(Elbow, Little League; Medial Apophysitis; Overuse Elbow Injury Related to Throwing)

Definition

Little League elbow is pain in the elbow joint due to repetitive throwing. This injury occurs in young baseball pitchers before puberty.
The Elbow Joint
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Causes

During this injury, the ligament attached to the inner side of the elbow begins to pull one of the growth plates away from the rest of the bone. Since the bones are still growing, the growth plates are weak and susceptible to injury. Certain types of throwing may lead to this condition, such as:
  • Throwing too hard and too often
  • Increasing the number of pitches per week too quickly
  • Throwing too many curves or sliders at a young age
  • Changing to a league where the pitcher's mound is farther away from home plate or the mound is elevated

Risk Factors

Little League elbow is more common in boys and in those aged 10-15 years old. Baseball pitching, especially throwing curve balls or sliders also increases risk.

Symptoms

Symptoms include:
  • Pain around the bony knob on the inner side of the elbow
  • Swelling (possibly)
  • Pain when throwing overhand
  • Pain with gripping or carrying heavy objects (sometimes)

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history. Other information needed will include how the injury occurred, when the pain occurs, and about previous injuries.The doctor will also:
  • Examine the elbow for signs of ligament or bone damage
  • Find the source of the pain
  • If needed, have an x-ray or an MRI scan done to look for damage to the bone

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