Little league elbow

Little league elbow is a significant injury that can occur in athletes that participate in sports that require a throwing action. If recurrent microtrauma occurs at the elbow joint the probability of having little league elbow increases. Little league elbow, also known as medial epicondyle apophysitis, is a result of delayed or accelerated growth of the medial epicondyle, medial epicondylar fragmentation, and inflammation of the medial epicondyle of the elbow area (Benjamin, 2011).

The signs and symptoms associated with little league elbow are slow to present themselves.  The signs that can be observed in the athlete’s sport performance can be a decrease in throwing distance, pain in the medial elbow area, and a decrease throwing effectiveness (Benjamin, 2011). Symptoms that are often present in little league elbow may include swelling and tenderness in the elbow area. An athlete may also verbalize that the elbow feels like it is catching or that the elbow feels like it is locking (Prentice, 2011).
The action that causes little league elbow usually comes from repeated stress in the overhand throwing motion that involves the pronator teres muscle and the group of muscles that originate in the common flexor tendon on the wrist and hand. Chronic valgus overload can lead to microtrauma of the growth plate in the medial epicondyle area. This type of repetitive microtrauma is called medial epicondyle apophysitis and it mainly affects pitchers between the ages of 9 to 14 (Little League).
Athletes who suffer from little league elbow should ice the affected area and rest. The athlete may also take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, as directed by their physician. The main form of treatment for little league elbow is non-operative and requires the patient to undergo 4-6 weeks of complete rest, as well initiating a strength and endurance program to maintain cardiovascular levels and to also focus on overall core strength (Karr, 2011). Understanding of proper form, technique, and the mechanics of the throwing action can lead to the prevention of elbow and shoulder joint problems. The rehabilitation exercise program will include proper technique along with strengthening of the forearm muscles. Along with strengthening the forearm muscles the triceps should also be strengthened and stretched (Prentice, 2011). The patient can return to play upon successful rehabilitation and a proper evaluation is concluded, along with the physicians permission to go back to play.
Benjamin, H. (2011, April 19). Medscape. Retrieved January 1 20, 2012, from
Karr, S. (2011, April 4). Little leaguer’s elbow. Retrieved January 1, 2012, from
Prentice, W.E., Bobo, L.S. & Benson, A.A. (2011). Principles of Athletic Training. New York: McGraw Hill

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