Carlos R. Rodriguez, MD
Little league shoulder is a condition is a condition seen in young athletes aged 10-16 involved in throwing sports (such as baseball) and overhead sports (such as racquet sports, swimming, gymnastics and volleyball). This condition causes a gradual onset of pain in the upper part of the arm bone (called the humerus) during throwing and overhead activities. You may notice a decrease in velocity and control of your throwing or arm swing.
The pain is thought to be related to an overuse and stress injury to the growth plate of the humerus. Any shoulder pain that persists in a young athlete is a sign of injury and should be evaluated by a physician.
Our physicians here at the Johns Hopkins All Children's Sports Medicine clinic will ask you about your symptoms, examine your shoulder and order some x-rays to evaluate the growth plate area.
Treatment usually consists of stopping any throwing or activity that may worsen the condition that may average up to three months. Adequate rest periods, icing, pitch counts, and evaluation of throwing, arm swing or swim mechanics are very important in the evaluation of this condition. We may also prescribe you an anti-inflammatory medication. A rehabilitation and strengthening program will also be recommended as part of your treatment.
Our goal is to return you safely and quickly to your activity. However we do not want to return you too soon as this can lead to permanent damage to your shoulder. In general, the longer you have symptoms, the longer it will take to get better.
The best way to prevent Little League shoulder is to limit the amount of throwing or overhead swinging a child does. Pitch counts, avoiding throwing curve balls too early, and rest between games are necessary to allow the shoulder to recover. We have developed an education card for coaches, parents and athletes to help them understand this condition and provide information regarding pitch counts and rest and the appropriate time to learn a curve ball.