Little League Elbow refers to a common growth plate injury experienced by young athletes (especially baseball players). It’s caused by repetitive throwing motions and overuse of the elbow joint during practice. Most players may experience an onset of symptoms ranging from elbow pain, mobility issues to slower throwing rates. All of these symptoms can become a cause for concern if the condition continues to progress. At Specialized Physical Therapy, we promote faster recovery time with our individualized Little League Elbow treatment plans.
Little League elbow is an overuse injury affecting the medial (inner) region of the elbow joint. It’s caused by repetitive throwing movements that place a strain on the attachment site (i.e. growth plate) of the elbow muscles. In turn, this makes joint mobility (i.e. flexing or rotating the affected forearm) more challenging for young players.
Young pitchers (aged 9-12) are more at risk than professionals because of their soft cartilage and developing bones. As the condition escalates, patients observe an increase in elbow pain and joint stiffness. It might affect throwing velocities and accuracy, leading to poor performance on the field.
Moreover, severe cases have reported muscle tears and bone fractures. Subsequently, the elbow pain and tears inhibit natural bone development, resulting in structural deformities.
Little League elbow physical therapy exercises and personalized treatment can prevent your child from meeting this fate. Our physical therapy programs help them recover from the condition faster without compromising on their performance.
Little League Elbow Symptoms
Common symptoms of Little League elbow include:
- A dull ache that gradually increases
- Swelling and muscle soreness in a localized area
- Stiffness in the elbow joint, leading to a locked elbow
- Inability to straighten the affected arm
- A noticeable bump present on the inner side of the elbow
- Limited movement and an altered throwing speed
The condition escalates without proper treatment, causing young athletes to miss out on their favorite sport. Structural deformities, muscle tears, and minor bone fractures might occur in severe cases.
- Repetitive throwing movement during high-risk sports (i.e. baseball and softball)
- Excessive single-sport participation and prolonged training
- Conditioning and training mistakes during practice
Little League Elbow Physical Therapy Diagnosis
Our physical therapists perform a complete physical examination when you book a consultation. The first session consists of a series of questions concerning medical history, previous elbow/arm injuries. We use this to compare current symptoms of Little League Elbow to assess functionality levels.
We ask young patients to move their arms and straighten their elbows for further evaluation. These controlled movements allow us to observe mobility, strength, and posture. Watching each patient throw, assessing their arm and body mechanics helps us develop a goal-oriented treatment plan to accelerate Little League elbow recovery time.
Little League Elbow Treatment
We base our Little League elbow treatment options on the severity of the growth plate injury and patients’ age. These customized programs often feature a combination of onsite and at-home techniques. For example, we teach children easy-to-follow Little League elbow exercises to promote full range of motion. These workout routines aim to regain lost movement, improve flexibility, and reduce swelling.
Additionally, children might undergo manual physical therapy for little league elbow and stimulation to ease elbow pain. If required, we can recommend a Little League elbow brace for young athletes to support the weakened joint and limit further damage. We also offer functional training options to teach young athletes how to hit and throw without straining their elbow joints. That way, they can return to the field without experiencing recurring elbow pain (or overuse injury).
Does your child or a young player you know exhibit symptoms of Little League elbow? Call 201-773-8851 or contact us HERE to seek help from customer support or schedule an appointment for a consultation for physical therapy for little league elbow.