April 24, 2009

‘Little league elbow’ caused by overuse

U.S. orthopedic surgeons warn children can suffer injury from throwing too many baseball pitches.

Members of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons say one such injury has become so common among children, many health professionals refer to it as little league elbow.

Little league has become a very popular sport among children today, Dr. Donald J. Zoltan -- an orthopedic surgeon in Wisconsin specializing in sports medicine and a spokesmen for the AAOS -- said in a statement. Coaches and parents need to remember that a child's bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons are still growing, making them more susceptible to injury, especially from overuse.

To avoid injury from excessive pitching, doctors recommend that coaches:

-- Follow the guidelines on the number of innings that can be pitched, usually a maximum of four to 10 innings a week as specified by the league.

-- Keep track of the number of pitches thrown by an individual player. While there is no concrete guideline, a reasonable number is 80 to 100 pitches as the maximum in a game and 30 to 40 pitches in a practice.

-- Remove any child with persistent pain from the game or practice until the pain subsides.