Children are starting sports early on in life and face enormous pressure to compete. While competition and ambition are healthy, there also runs the risk of young baseball players developing “little leaguers’ elbow” which is a result of repetitive stresses of incorrect throwing.
Little Leaguers’ Elbow now encompasses all of the stress changes related to youth pitching, specifically overuse injuries involving the flexor tendons of the wrist. The repeated trauma of pitching; throwing curve balls and other breaking pitches place increased strain on the wrist. Symptoms such as pain and tenderness at the inside and back of the elbow are common with Little Leaguers’ Elbow. Pain will increase with any additional strain such as throwing or gripping.
The primary goal of treatment is to decrease inflammation, and this is achieved with ice and rest. Range of motion therapy begins in the whirlpool and progresses to the strengthening of the muscles.
Pre-exercise stretching is essential; as well as correcting the throwing technique, the length of time a player throws, and attention to flexibility. Proper use of body mechanics will also alter the throwing technique, reducing strain and stress on the elbow. Pitchers should be advised to use their lower body to generate speed and power during windup and deceleration post-throw.
Knowing the proper methods of stretching as well as the proper displacement of pressure to avoid strain on the elbow is essential. Coaches should also encourage a young pitcher to work on ball control and discourage curveballs until the player is more fully developed.