Common Throwing Injuries in Youth Baseball

Melrose Incarnation Baseball - 060708 - 132-300

Melrose Incarnation Baseball – 060708 – 132-300 (Photo credit: Paul-W)

Common Throwing Injuries in Youth Baseball

Youth baseball is a common source of arm injuries related to throwing. Overhead throwing mechanics creates stresses at the shoulder and elbow. The most common area of pain complaints in the young baseball player is the elbow. The shoulder is also a common site of injury. Several risk factors are associated with increased  injury of young  .

 Risks of Arm Injuries

  1. Age: The Youth Baseball Player is susceptible to injury due to the development of the musculoskeletal  system. The growth plates located at the ends of upper arm, at the elbow and shoulder, are common sites of potential injury.
  2. Level of Competition: as the young athlete increases their level of play so does the demand on the maturing arm in the throwing athlete. Increased competition places demands due to frequency of throwing, throwing distances and intensity of play.
  3. Number of pitches in a season: as the level of play increases the repetition of throwing increases. The young pitcher places increased demands on the soft tissue of the elbow and shoulder if adequate rest intervals are not allowed to take place.
  4. Fatigue: inadequate rest causes fatigue, and if the body is not prepared with proper technique, physical preparation(strength and endurance), and control of pitches thrown, the shoulder and elbow are at greater risk of injury.

Common Youth Baseball Injuries

Shoulder Anatomy of Common Baseball Injuries

Shoulder Anatomy of Common Baseball Injuries

Little League Elbow:

Avulsion of the ossification center of the medial(inside) elbow. Accompanied by pain, limited motion, swelling and possibly a popping sensation.

Little League Shoulder:

Involves injury of the proximal(shoulder bone) humeral growth plate(epiphysis). Pain is experienced over the front and lateral aspect of the shoulder. The ability to move the arm may be limited, as well as strength.

Shoulder Anatomy of Common Baseball Injuries

Shoulder Anatomy of Common Baseball Injuries

Osteochondritis Dissecans:

Compression lesion of the articular cartilage in the lateral(outside) elbow. There may be associated loss of extension(straightening) of the elbow. This may be more career threatening.

Rotator Cuff Strain:

Overuse of the stabilizing soft tissue at the shoulder(glenohumeral joint) is a common injury in overhead, throwing sports such as baseball. The muscle-tendon cuff inserts at the upper most end of the shoulder. The muscle can be injured as a result of repetitive strain. Pain and weakness is commonly present with throwing and lifting movements.

Management of Player Complaints

Complaints of shoulder and elbow pain should not be taken lightly when dealing with the youth athlete. The young thrower is subjected to stresses to structures that are growing and maturing, namely the growth centers at the shoulder and elbow.

Initial management of a complaint must be attended to with a rest and control of pain using a cold pack 3 times per day. Careful attention must be given to adequate warm-up, throwing distance and repetition. All throwing should discontinue if pain is associated with a reduction in joint range of motion, strength and ability to perform normal activity on the field, at school, and home. It is advised that being over-cautious is acceptable.

If pain persists and does not decrease with initial management a Medical Doctor or Physical Therapist should be consulted for assessment. Early initial management of any injury will reduce the possibility of increasing the severity of an otherwise minor injury, and speed the return to healthy play in the long run.

Understanding the risk factors, common injuries and management of youth baseball player must be a top priority to coaches and parents.

Youth Baseball Injuries can be Prevented will be presented as a follow-up to the article.

Core Stabilization for Baseball: ProBell and Smart Bell

Posted by: Randy Bauer

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