Little Leaguer's elbow is an injury to the upper arm bone at the elbow. It happens to young athletes who are still growing.
This problem is also called medial apophysitis.
Little Leaguer's elbow is caused by overuse of the arm, usually from too much pitching or throwing. The bones of young children are still growing. Repeated throwing causes wear and tear on the new, weaker bone in the elbow. In severe cases, the growing bone may actually break away from the rest of the upper arm.
Children who play baseball year-round are more likely to have overuse injuries.
The main symptom is pain at the inner side of the elbow. Your child may have swelling and the elbow may be tender to touch.
Your child’s healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms, medical history, and activities and examine your child's arm. Tests may include X-rays or other scans.
The most important treatment is resting of the arm. Depending on how severe the injury is, your child may need to stop throwing for 1 to 3 months, limit the number of throws, or limit how much he plays. During this time your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises and other types of physical therapy to help your child heal.
If there is a break in the bone, your child may need surgery.
The pain often gets better within a few weeks with self-care, but some injuries may take several months or longer to heal. It’s important to follow all of your healthcare provider’s instructions.
Follow the full course of treatment your child’s healthcare provider prescribes.
To keep swelling down and help relieve pain:
Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your child’s healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup.
The best way to prevent Little Leaguer's elbow is to limit how much your child throws. If your child is a baseball pitcher, be sure to follow the guidelines for how many pitches or innings a child can throw in a week. In general:
When your child is not pitching, he or she needs to be sure they are not throwing hard while playing another position (like shortstop), practicing, or playing other sports. It’s also very important for your child to learn proper pitching technique.
Children should not play through pain. If your child’s arm hurts, your child should stop throwing.