There has been a sharp increase in the incidence of shoulder and elbow injuries, especially in young baseball players. We are seeing these injuries in younger and younger patients which is an alarming trend. This has directly correlated to the increase in the "one sport athlete" with year round, single sport-specific training and has been most obvious in baseball players. The vast majority are due to overuse and overtraining, and therefore can be avoided. The following links are to a national program from the AOSSM (American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine) aimed to educate players, parents, coaches, and physicians to the dangers of these overuse injuries. We hope that it is educational and helpful.
Fortunately, with helpful resources such as those listed above, young athletes can take important steps to reduce their chances of of experiencing shoulder or elbow injuries.
Preventive Steps For Young Baseball Players
With proper stretching and appropriately moderated training, young athletes can significantly limit their risk of an overuse injury. The following steps play an important role in protecting against injury and ensuring that athletes can enjoy playing their favorite sports throughout their lives:
- Warm Up Properly: stretch, run, and gradually ease into throwing
- Follow Age-Appropriate Guidelines: develop skills appropriate for your age level, and follow Little League Baseball pitch count guidelines
- Don't Play Through The Pain: avoid pitching if you have elbow or shoulder pain, and communicate your symptoms to coaches, parents, and sports medicine professionals
- Practice Moderation: don't pitch on consecutive days or on multiple teams during a season, and avoid playing year-round
Know The Signs and Symptoms of Overuse Injuries
Another important step to take toward limiting the risks of overuse injury is to know what to look for. When you are able to identify symptoms of overuse early on, you can take the necessary break from the activity causing pain and seek necessary medical help. Common symptoms include:
- Elbow or shoulder pain the day after throwing
- Movement that is painful or restricted, especially compared to the opposite arm
- Swelling in the joint
If young athletes complain of any of the above symptoms, it is important to seek out a sports medicine physician or athletic trainer as soon as possible. Early intervention can help to prevent such injuries from becoming worse.
Typically, a sports medicine physician will perform an examination and may take images such as radiographs and an MRI scan to get a more full picture of the injury.
Common Treatment Options
Fortunately, when symptoms are identified early on, overuse injuries are highly treatable. In many cases, a combination of rest, ice, and medication like ibuprofen can be effective to treat the pain and swelling. When the pain subsides, and full motion in the joint is restored, rehabilitative steps should be taken to regain strength and flexibility in the muscles.
In more severe cases, the injury may go deeper than just the soft tissue. In these cases, surgery may be necessary to fully correct the injury and prevent further problems from developing later on in the player's life.
Rothman Institute Can Help
For player in or around the Philadelphia area, expert help is available nearby. At Rothman Institute, our team of sports medicine experts, as well as our shoulder and elbow specialists, work together to provide the highest level of care to athletes of all ages.
To learn more about our available sports medicine services, contact our offices today at 1.800.321.9999.