Little Leaguer's Elbow: Do Not Let it Happen To Your Arm


What is Little League Elbow 

Little Leaguer's Elbow is a condition which typically occurs in young athletes between the ages of 9-14 years who commonly complain of pain on the inside of the elbow (medial). 

The cause of Little Leaguer's Elbow is from overuse due to repetitive stress which causes injury and chronic inflammation of the growth plate at the elbow from throwing and is especially seen in pitchers but can occur in catchers and field players. 

The pain is increased with throwing and number of pitches. This is not uncommon and can occur in up to 40% of throwers. This is also synonymous with Little Leaguer's Elbow Syndrome. 

This condition is over-stressing to the medial elbow or valgus overload causing damage to the joint from repetitive throwing. It is rare that these young athletes with Little Leaguer's Elbow will require surgery.

Little Leaguer's ElbowImage of a baseball player 

Little Leaguer's Elbow

Adult pitchers do not experience the same injury because the growth plates in the bones have closed. Adults more commonly have injuries to the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and may require surgery which was made famous by major league pitcher Tommy John.

Athletes who sustain a UCL injury will experience elbow pain, numbness, swelling and instability. Some patients suffering from an elbow ligament injury may have trouble gripping items with their hands. 

Athletes will experience a loss of strength and control with throwing at full speed. When a UCL injury occurs, a pop or pulling sound can be heard. All of these symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the injury.

What services does The Jacksonville Orthopedic Institute provide for elbow conditions?

JOI has skilled Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Athletic Trainers with extensive knowledge in rehabilitative and preventative care for sports injuries. 

It is recommended to have a complete elbow evaluation to ensure no other injuries are present. 

Our therapists help athletes return to sports with full pain-free use of the throwing arm by improving core and upper extremity strength, range of motion, controlling swelling and managing pain. 

The therapists at JOI are trained in Dartfish Analysis that can provide biomechanical throwing analysis to improve and prevent injury/reinjury. 

JOI offers The Sports Center which assists with the transition from outpatient orthopaedic therapy services to recreational and competitive sports. 

JOI’s Sports Center also provides treatment for related injuries such as tennis elbow, golf swing deficits and other sports injuries.

What are other related elbow conditions, such as Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow?

Elbow pain is very common with active individuals caused from use at home, work or recreational activities. Symptoms range from mild, dull pain to immobility. 

The most common symptom of tennis elbow includes a gradual increase in pain around the outer area of the elbow and worsens with forceful wrist motion. 

Most individuals get this condition in their dominant arm but it can also occur in the non-dominant arm. 

Tennis Elbow, or Lateral Epicondylitis, is treated by allowing the affected arm to rest as much as possible, wearing a counter-pressure strap and wrist splint, stretching exercises and modifying activities for three to six weeks. 

Golfer’s Elbow, or Medial Epicondylitis, is similar to Tennis Elbow except pain occurs on the inside instead of the outside of the elbow. The treatment is very similar for Tennis Elbow and Golfer’s Elbow.

The goal of JOI Rehab and The Sports Center is for patients to return to competitive or recreational sports activities. 

Our orthopedic physicians work alongside our sports medicine team to coordinate a plan of care to best suit our young athletes’ needs whether they need to relieve sports injuries or increase sports performance.

If you want to learn more about throwing injuries, please watch this video.

By: Jared Ernest, Physical Therapist


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