Shoulder injuries in baseball players are usually associated with pitching. The oVerhand throwing motion when performed repeatedly, can place stress on the shoulder. While pitching, the arm is thrown outward and backward to generate speed. This action forces the head of the humerus forward, stressing the surrounding ligaments and tendons.
These stresses can lead to injuries, causing pain and inflammation. Common baseball injuries include:
- Pain and instability in the shoulder that can result in reduced throwing capacity
- Tears of the labrum
- Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons) and tears of the rotator cuff
- Tendonitis and tears of the biceps tendon
- Impingement of the rotator cuff tendons between the humeral head and glenoid
- Partial dislocation of the joint
Little league shoulder is an injury to the growth plate of the upper arm bone in the shoulder joint of children. It is caused by overuse from pitching or throwing, especially in children between the ages of 10 to 15 years. This condition is mostly seen in baseball pitchers, but children in other sports who use improper throwing action are also at risk. Symptoms associated with this condition include:
- Pain in the shoulder while playing
- Swelling of the shoulder joint
- Reduced speed and control while throwing
- Difficulty in lifting the arm
The physician will evaluate a shoulder injury by performing a thorough physical examination. Imaging studies such as X-rays and MRIs may be ordered. Additionally pain and the movements that produce it will be reviewed.
Little league shoulder is diagnosed by reviewing the child’s symptoms and medical history. The physician will perform a thorough physical examination of the shoulder and may also order a shoulder X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.
Most shoulder injuries involve soft tissue structures that can be treated by a period of rest, ice application, medication and physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the muscles and ligaments, improving and maintaining range of motion. A change in throwing technique may be suggested to reduce stress on the injured shoulder.
Little league shoulder is best treated by resting the shoulder until the injury heals. Physical therapy to strengthen the shoulder muscles may also be recommended.