Preventing, Diagnosing, and Treating Classic Little League Injuries
Children that play little league baseball are susceptible to orthopedic injuries in the elbow and shoulder. Throwing a baseball can put enormous strain and stress on the throwing arm, and in developing children and young adults, excessive stress can result in lasting injuries if left untreated.
In adults, the tendons and ligaments absorb the stress, but children and young adults will absorb the impact on the weakest part of the bone – the cartilage near the growth plate. The intensity and frequency of throwing a ball is directly related to how often these injuries occur, which is why pitchers are at the highest risk of a little league shoulder or elbow injury. Diagnosing these injuries promptly is the first step to proper treatment.
Little League Shoulder Injuries
The first indication that the shoulder is experiencing an excessive amount of stress is discomfort and pain. The growth plates in a young person cannot handle the stress for long periods of time, which can eventually cause the growth plate in the shoulder to fracture if the condition is not treated properly by a qualified orthopedic surgeon. These injuries can be compounded over time and result in loss of mobility to the arm.
Little League Elbow Injuries
Complaints of pain in the elbow should be immediately addressed as prolonged stress and strain on the elbow can cause a small fragment of the bone to detach. The first sign of a problem is pain, especially on the inside of the elbow. The area may also swell, and the child may experience loss of motion in that arm if the condition is left untreated. If your child exhibits any signs of a little league elbow injury, contact an orthopedic surgeon to receive an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Prevention Strategies: Limiting Throws and Knowing the Signs
Knowing the indicators that you should watch for to identify a problem is crucial, and the injuries associated with little league baseball present very obvious signs. Pain in the elbow, shoulder, or arm will only be exacerbated by repeated throwing and not by unrelated movement. Swelling and loss of motion are more serious signs of an injury. You should have your child evaluated immediately if he or she complains of pain in their throwing arm.
You can prevent these injuries by limiting the number of times a child or young adult throws a ball, and especially, by limiting the number of innings that a pitcher plays in a game or even during a team practice.
When to Consult a Physician
Any complaint of pain in the arm, shoulder or elbow of a little league baseball player should not be dismissed, as it can result in further complications if left untreated. Consult a doctor immediately if your child complains of pain in the elbow or shoulder after a game to have the arm assessed by a trained orthopedic surgeon that can prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.