Elbow Injuries Among Young Baseball Players

Now that summer is in full swing, you’ll find most children playing outside and enjoying the sun. Unfortunately, some popular summer sports can also cause injuries if you and your kid are not being careful.

Some of these injuries frequently happen in the baseball field. According to Johns Hopkins, more than 100,000 children from ages 5 to 14 were treated in hospital emergency rooms for baseball-related injuries. The sport also has the highest fatality rate among children aged 5 to 14, with three to four dying from a baseball injury each year.

Pitching Fatigue

Little pitchers who throw too many pitches are prone to injuries more than any other baseball players. Here are two of the most common elbow injuries that happen to young players:

UCL Tear

The ulnar collateral ligament connects the humerus (arm) to the ulna (forearm). The ligament may tear up due to the repeated stress that comes from throwing away too many pitches.

The UCL injury may require a “Tommy John” surgery, named after a Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher who was the first to undergo a UCL reconstruction procedure.

Little League Elbow

While the UCL tear is an injury to the ligament, the little league elbow is an injury to the growth plate. This injury is also caused by repetitive throwing motions. During a throwing motion, a lot of pressure is placed on the inner elbow. The growth plates, which haven’t fully developed yet, become overused and are more prone to injury.

Many sports injuries can be prevented by using proper form, wearing protective equipment, and watching out for early signs of muscle fatigue or pain. If your little pitcher experiences inner elbow pain, have him or her stop playing immediately. If the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) does not improve the elbow’s condition, then visit a San Diego pediatric orthopedic doctor for a more comprehensive treatment plan.

Be Careful: Injuries are Prevalent During Summer

After being cooped up indoors during the winter months, children are now taking advantage of the fine weather by doing a lot of playing and exploration. As a result, there’s usually a spike of ER visits among children during these hot summer months, based on my experience. Most of these kids suffer from injuries that happened in the playground, baseball parks, swimming pools, and bicycles.

Unfortunately, if you and your child are not being careful, doing physical activities over the summer can result to injury. Children jump right into the full swing of activities after being inactive in the last couple of months, making them prone to injury. These four injuries are the most common among children:

Sprains and Strains

A sprain is an injury to the ligament, while a strain is an injury to a muscle.

Growth Plate Injury

The growth plate is a tissue area at the end of a long bone that is still developing. Growth plate injuries are called fractures, and they happen to children and young people.

Repetitive Motion Injury

If an activity is repeated often enough, it could cause stress on a child’s muscles and tendons, resulting to acute traumatic injuries or chronic overuse injuries.

Preventing Summer Injuries

Injuries can and will happen. But don’t let these prevent your children from having the best summer of their lives. Instead of banning your children indoors, you can encourage them to take part in organized sports through clubs and communities that are being maintained by professionals.

Also get them proper equipment. Make sure they’re using a shoe that’s appropriate for their sports and playing surface. And as always, keep them hydrated. Make warm-ups and cool-downs a permanent part of their routine.

Treatment of Summer Injuries

If your child suffers from injury this summer, the first thing to remember is to implement RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Get professional help if the injury is severe. If the pain does not subside after a while, or if a shoulder or a knee bends the wrong way, consult with a San Diego pediatric orthopedic doctor right away.

How to Choose the Right Sports for Your Child

Summer is the perfect time for you to encourage your child to go outside, soak in the sunshine, and try out new things, like organized sports. Doing so will not only make them physically active, but will also teach them how to work with their peers and figures of authority.

Participating in sports over the summer will also teach them the values of competition and cooperation, as well as improve their confidence and body image.

If you’re still at a loss as to what type of sports to engage your child in, check out the following tips and suggestions:

Start the child with easier activities.

Start the child with activities that aren’t hard to master, such as playing catch or kicking ball. Once the child gets better at it and grows older, you can introduce the idea of team sports or competitive sports.

Involve the child in the decision process.

Expose the child to a variety of sports and watch out for signs of enthusiasm to determine which particular activity he or she likes the most. Or, you can simply ask what type of sports your kid wants to play. If children are part of the decision process, they are more likely to be engaged with the activity.

Consider the child’s physical traits and personality.  

Consider the strengths, weaknesses, and personality of your child. Some body types are more suited to a certain type of sports than others. Is the child stocky enough to play football, or tall enough to play basketball? Is the kid more inclined towards team sports, or individual sports?

Prevent Injury by Choosing the Right Sports

Unfortunately, summer is also the time when injuries among young athletes are high. If your child has a chronic health condition or a disability, you may want to consult with a San Diego pediatric orthopedic first for a pre-sports checkup and ask what activity would be best suited for your child.

Finding the right sports activity from the get go may be next to impossible, and it can take a series of trial and error before your kid gets it right. Still, the process of finding the right sports to play for the summer is important in order to prevent sports injury. And even if a sport is not a good fit, it can still be a great learning experience for your child.