What is Little League Shoulder?
We’re almost to the end of summer now, but little league baseball season is still in full swing. And of course, so are all the bumps, bruises, scrapes and injuries that go with it. As a parent, you’re probably used to most of that, but here’s one thing you may not have heard of yet: Little League Shoulder.
What is it?
Little League Shoulder is an injury to the growth plate in the shoulder that young athletes often suffer as a result of the repetitive throwing motion from pitching and playing baseball.
It often occurs when kids consistently throw the ball as hard as they can without strong enough muscles to keep up or when their form and mechanics are incorrect.
Some red flags to look for if you think your child might be developing Little League Shoulder:
- Pain while pitching, throwing or moving their arm
- Swelling of the shoulder area
- Loss of range of motion in the shoulder
In some more serious cases, the pain may continue even when the patient is resting.
If you think your young athlete has Little League Shoulder, taking him or her to the doctor or pediatrician for a visit is a good way to diagnose the problem and get a prescribed treatment. In some cases, it may be better to visit an orthopaedic specialist like our team here at Excelsior. An x-ray may also be recommended to accurately diagnose the problem.
Treatment and Prevention
The best treatment for a bone injury like Little League Shoulder is rest. In some cases, a physical therapy program might be recommended to help young athletes develop stronger muscles and work their way back up to throwing. The period of time for healing varies on a case-by-case basis, but your doctor or specialist will advise you of how long to rest.
There’s no 100% guaranteed way to prevent sports injuries, but you can avoid Little League Shoulder with a few careful steps. USA Baseball has a set of pitch limit guidelines they recommend for athletes of different age groups. You can see those in the table below, but you may also want to check out USA Baseball’s page on young baseball pitching injuries, which also has some good content for parents.
Keeping track of rest between games, practices and pitches is also important. Your coaches should have adequate rest scheduled between hard pitching outings for young athletes, but Little League Baseball has some good guidelines to follow as well.
If you could take only one thing away from this article, remember that Little League Shoulder is a real bone injury and shouldn’t be ignored. Next time your son or daughter complains of abnormal pain in the pitching shoulder, make sure to get it checked out, or better yet, schedule a visit to Excelsior Orthopaedics, and get them moving freely again fast.