PT Tip of the Month
Little League Shoulder
What is Little League shoulder?
With Spring fast approaching, children everywhere will return to playing baseball. The start of the season however, is often a time when kids will experience an increase in injury. One injury that is being increasingly recognized and diagnosed is proximal humerus epiphysitis, also known as Little League shoulder. Little League shoulder is a stress injury to the upper growth plate in the humerus (upper arm bone). The most frequent age range to present with this injury is from 10 years old to 15 years old, and the most common cause of the injury is repetitive stress from constant throwing. Throwing involves extreme rotatory torque and sudden acceleration and deceleration of the arm, which places high levels of stress on the shoulder. In full grown adults, the tendons and ligaments tend to absorb a lot of the forces from these motions, however in children, the growth plate takes the brunt of the force. While it is called Little League shoulder, and occurs frequently with baseball, the injury can also occur with tennis, volleyball, or any sport with repetitive motions.
Often times the first symptom of Little League shoulder is a vague pain in the shoulder that increases with stressful use of the arm during sports. As the symptoms progress, the pain will last longer after the cessation of irritating activities. When the damage gets worse, there may be weakness, limited mobility, and an inability to participate in sport. Diagnosis can be made with x-ray, which will reveal widening of the growth plate.
The first step in treating little league shoulder is to cease the irritating activity. If appropriate treatment is not completed, then there can be long term issues with shoulder pain. In rare cases, a displaced fracture through the growth plate can occur. Depending on the severity and duration of the symptoms, there is a possibility of weakness and loss of range of motion. The injured player would then benefit from skilled physical therapy to help regain strength and motion. Treatment may also include an extensive assessment to help determine why the thrower developed the symptoms, such as weakness or tightness in the arm, core, or legs. With rest and treatment, full return to activity is expected.
If your child currently has a painful shoulder and would like to schedule an evaluation, please call 617-232-PAIN for our Brookline office, or 617-325-PAIN for our West Roxbury office.
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1208B VFW Parkway, Suite 202 · West Roxbury, MA 02132 · Tel: (617) 325-PAIN (7246) · Fax: (617) 325-7282