Young athletes can be prone to certain repetitive use injuries. In adolescents and teens, the body is still growing, and physical strain can have an impact. Little League elbow is a condition where a bone growth plate in the elbow becomes inflamed and irritated, causing elbow pain when performing throwing motions. Dr. Steven Struhl at Shoulders & Knees orthopedics is a top sports medicine and orthopedic surgeon who offers Little League elbow treatment at our clinics in Westchester and NYC.
The overhand throwing motion used by baseball pitchers can put stress on the growth plate at the medial epicondyle on the inside of the elbow. Growth plates are portions of the bone that have not finished developing, a stage between cartilage and bone. When a young pitcher, usually between the ages of 9-14, is throwing more frequently or for longer periods of time, the tendons put stress on the growth plates. The areas can become swollen, red and painful, right inside the elbow, especially when pitching or throwing.
Relieving Little League Elbow Pain
Little League elbow symptoms usually begin slowly. Pain on the inside of the elbow when throwing can indicate growth plate irritation. It is common for the pain to become worse when young athletes increase their throwing frequency or extend their playing time. Early detection and treatment can prevent further damage to the growth plate and bone. Fractures and bone damage repair is possible with rest and treatment for Little League elbow.
Conservative treatment is recommended for relieving Little League elbow pain. Resting the elbow from throwing for 4-6 weeks or longer and performing physical therapy to strengthen the arm can be beneficial. Ice and anti-inflammatory medications can be used to control pain and inflammation. Rehabilitation can take 12 weeks or more, and surgical intervention is usually not needed unless the ligaments are completely torn or the bone is damaged.
If you have a young athlete who has symptoms of Little League elbow, contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Steven Struhl to discuss treatment options.