With the increasing participation and competitive level of today’s youth sports, more adolescent and pediatric patients are being evaluated and treated for a variety of elbow injuries. Each year over two million children participate in Little League activities. Previous surveys have shown elbow pain occurs in up to 20% of all little league throwers and a more recent study found a 26% frequency of elbow pain in 9-12 year-old baseball players.

Most of this pain is due to overuse. The most common elbow injury in young baseball players is medial epicondyle apophysitis, better known as “little league elbow.” This is an overuse injury to one of the growth plates on the inside of the elbow.Second Game 6-26-12088

Source: Elbow Injuries in Young Throwers

The key treatment of most elbow injuries is prevention.This responsibility is widespread, involving the team physician, coach, athletic trainer, parents and officials. Emphasis must be placed at an early age on preseason conditioning, proper throwing mechanics and proper warm up exercises. The main culprit of pediatric elbow injuries is simply allowing children to throw too much. Because of this, most youth leagues have pitch count rules in place.

Complete pitch count guidelines should take into account the age of the thrower and include limits on the number of pitches that should be made during each game as well as the maximum number of pitches that should be thrown in a week, during the entire season and even throughout the year. Adhering to pitch count guidelines is critical for the longevity of a pitcher’s arm.