Little league elbow

Q: My 10 year old son has been looking forward to playing Little League again this year. Last season he complained of elbow pain after pitching. I am concerned that he may be straining his arm. What do you think?

A: Spring is the time of year to play baseball. For decades, Little League baseball has provided an ideal setting for children to grow and develop physically, emotionally and socially. To keep this environment safe and fun for the little sluggers, every precaution should be taken to prevent injuries.

A common complaint among youth baseball pitchers is elbow pain. This is usually a result of overusing the throwing arm and is even referred to as “Little League Elbow”. The pain, stiffness and reduced range of motion are directly related to the frequency and intensity of the pitches.

A recent study (2001) in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise followed approximately 300 youth pitchers over two consecutive seasons. The study found that children who threw over 75 pitches per game were 50% more likely to develop elbow pain than children throwing less pitches per game.

Little League elbow is an overuse syndrome. However, the above mentioned study also found that children throwing less than 300 pitches over the entire season were prone to report shoulder pain as well as elbow pain. In contrast to Little League elbow, this is likely due to underuse of the throwing arm.