Little league shoulder and elbow are the two most common overuse injuries caused by repetitive athletic movements. They most often occur in adolescent baseball or softball players and are most commonly seen in baseball pitchers due to the repetitive overhand motion involved in throwing the ball.
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Little Leaguer’s elbow results in damage to the medial section of the elbow (the inside of the elbow), including the medial collateral ligament, as well as the medial epicondyle and the medial epicondylar aphophysis. The medial epicondyle is the growth plate on the inside end of the elbow, and this often becomes inflamed in adolescents experiencing Little Leaguer’s elbow.
The shoulder joint is a ball and socket joint that connects the scapula (shoulder blade) to the humerus (upper arm bone). The physis, or growth plate, is the weak point of the proximal humerus (the upper part of your humerus). Stress to the shoulder blade and arm bone causes widening of the growth plate, resulting in a shear or stress injury. Little League shoulder only affects athletes whose growth plates have not yet closed.
Little Leaguer’s shoulder and elbow are typically a result of repetitive movement and overuse by adolescent-aged baseball and softball players, particularly pitchers. Stress and strain on the medial structures in the elbow and twisting of the shoulder can result due to the repeated cocking and follow-through motions involved in pitching a ball. This can lead to ligament laxity (looseness), which can result in sprains or tears of the ligaments in the elbow and shoulder. Inflammation of the growth plate in the elbow and shoulder can also occur.
Causes leading to Little Leaguer’s shoulder and elbow include:
Symptoms of Little Leaguer’s shoulder and elbow can vary based on how severe the condition is, but generally include:
To properly diagnose shoulder and elbow injuries, our specialist will conduct a thorough physical examination and review the patient’s sports history as well as personal and family medical history. Sometimes, testing such as an X-ray or an MRI may be required to look for any changes where the cartilage meets the bone and any damage to the growth plate. After confirming a diagnosis, your doctor will address the pain level.
Treatment of Little Leaguer’s shoulder and elbow is typically conservative in nature unless severe damage to the ligaments or the growth plates occurs.
To learn more about the Little League Shoulder and Elbow treatment options available at Redefine Healthcare, please call one of our offices or use our simple online scheduling system to make an appointment with a highly-skilled physician.
Initial treatment of Little Leaguer’s shoulder and elbow typically focuses on temporarily resting the affected joints, as well as reducing pain and inflammation. This allows the patient to proceed through a course of physical therapy to strengthen and stabilize the shoulder or elbow.
Failure to address little league and elbow symptoms properly can lead to further elbow or shoulder problems in the future. These conditions can result in permanent damage to the growth plates, causing bone growth to be disrupted and deformity to occur.
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Dr. Eric D. Freeman is a top-rated, best-in-class pain management doctor. He is a nationally recognized pain relief specialist and is among the top pain care doctors in New Jersey and the country. He is an award-winning expert and contributor to prominent media outlets.
Dr. Eric D. Freeman has been recognized for his thoughtful, thorough, modern approach to treating chronic pain. He has been named a “top pain management doctor in New Jersey” and one of “America’s Top Physicians” for advanced sports injury treatments.
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