Little League Shoulder
Little leaguer’s shoulder is a condition seen in young overhead athletes - typically baseball pitchers. With the large stresses placed on athletic children today, overusing the arm can cause repetitive damage to the growth plate in the shoulder. This can lead to an njury to the growth area (physis). One will often present with pain in what is called late cocking, or right before the pitcher accelerates his/her arm before releasing the ball. The athlete may even notice decreased velocity and control in his/ her pitching. There may or may not be swelling. More severe cases cause pain with non-throwing activities such as carrying book bags, opening car doors, or even at rest. Little League Shoulder is diagnosed clinically in the office with a history of throwing related pain and tenderness with palpation over the growth plate.
As demonstrated here, X-rays may show widening of the growth plate when compared to the uninjured side.
Treatment of Little League Shoulder
The best way to treat this condition is with rest, ice and physical therapy. Ways to prevent the injury include proper mechanics, limiting pitch counts, and limiting the use of breaking pitches until the athlete is skeletally mature. Throwing and batting are typically limited for a period of 6-8 weeks. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can be used for pain relief and a sling may be used to limit motion and provide pain relief. Once the growth plate has healed and the pain has resolved, a physical therapy program should be implemented to restore range of motion, strength, and help guide a pain-free gradual return to full throwing.
Prevention: To prevent these injuries, understanding proper pitch counts, and maintaining proper pitching mechanics are imperative. Click here to learn more.
If your young athlete is complaining of shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with one of our sports medicine experts today.