Little League Shoulder

By Dr. Lance Snyder

Why is Little League Shoulder Injuries Common?

By: Dr. Lance Snyder, MD

Painful Shoulder in X-Ray.

Image of X-Ray shoulder.

Youth baseball for many athletes has become a year round sport. This has led to a troublesome trend of overuse and thus injuries. In addition, the pediatric athlete is particularly susceptible to throwing injuries due to the growing muscles, tendons and bones.

Symptoms of Little League Shoulder

The little league shoulder typically presents with pain in the dominant throwing shoulder of baseball players. However, it can be seen in softball, volleyball and even tennis. The pain is typically located on the outside of the shoulder and often radiates into the arm. Furthermore, the pain is often insidious and does not have to be associated with trauma to the shoulder.

Anatomy of Shoulder

The shoulder complex is made up of the proximal humerus (fracture in long bone of the upper arm) and scapula (shoulder blade), along with surrounding muscles and ligaments. Structurally, the weak area of the proximal humerus is the physis, the growth plate.

For more information about the shoulder, go to:

Pathology of Shoulder: What is Little League Syndrome?

The injury is essentially a Salter Harris Type 1 fracture (injury of the growth plate) of the proximal humerus. Specifically the damage occurs in the zone of hypertrophy, where the cells are enlarging, in little league shoulder.

Diagnosis of Little League Shoulder

The diagnosis can be made with the history of excessive throwing, pain, weakness of the rotator cuff  and loss of motion. Radiographs can aid in the diagnosis process. The widening of the lateral physis is often seen in the radiographs. Also, an MRI often shows an increased edema (swelling of the tissues) in the area of the physis, the growth plate.

How Do You Treat Little League Shoulder and How Long Does It Take To Heal?

Rest is the major component of treatment and up to 8-12 weeks is recommended. During this period, ice can be used to help with pain. Physical therapy is recommended when the athlete is pain free typically after 4-6 weeks of rest.  A return to sport throwing program is recommended to make sure that pain does not return during the healing process.

JOI Rehab

JOI Rehab has biomechanical software (Dartfish) that can conduct a video analysis of a thrower’s mechanics and evaluate their deficiencies. JOI’s goal is to help improve the performance of athletes to reduce the risk of injury or re-injury. All 12 of our rehab centers are certified to assist in throwing performance as well as our sports center. If your baseball team is interested in a custom throwing session to improve your mechanics and techniques, call (904) 858-7045

JOI has 12 physical therapy clinics conveniently located in Jacksonville and Northeast FL who specialize in orthopedic rehab. Our JOI team has the expertise and technological advances to get you back to your ideal level of function.

Dr. Lance Snyder is an Orthopedic Surgeon at the JOI Baptist South Location. To schedule an appointment with him, please call JOI-2000.

Dr. Lance Snyder in Jacksonville.

Image of Dr. Lance Snyder.


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