While parents and grandparents might be struggling with the signs of aging (bad knee and hip joints, painful shoulders) orthopedic youth injuries are increasing at an alarming rate, especially in baseball.
One researcher estimated that serious throwing injuries are occurring 16 times more often than just 30 years ago – even though orthopedic surgeon organizations have issued guidelines. According to the STOP Sports Injuries campaign, 20% of youth ages 8-12 and 45% of youth aged 13-14 will have arm pain during baseball season.
Those pains are warning signs of problems that could lead to loss of motion and strength. Untreated, there may be permanent damage to growth centers of the shoulder and elbow.
The repetitive motion of young pitchers’ arms put their limbs at risk. Most common injuries include:
Other common baseball injuries include muscle pulls, ligament injures, cuts and bruises. Although baseball is officially a “non-contact” sport, many youth injuries are due to contact with a ball, a bat or another player.
“In most cases, we would suggest rest, physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication,” says McLeod Sports Medicine Medical Director Dr. Pat Denton of McLeod Orthopaedics. “If these treatments don’t help, we would move to several possible surgical solutions, including 1) minimally invasive Arthroscopy to look at and repair a problem or remove bone chips, or 2) Tommy John Surgery, which involves rebuilding a torn ligament or nerve repositioning to prevent stretching or snapping.”
RETURNING TO THE FIELD|
Young athletes can return to the field in 6 to 9 WEEKS after successful non-surgical treatment. If surgery is required, the path back to the field may take 6 to 9 MONTHS.
Do not ignore pain in young athletes. It could develop into serious or lifelong limitations. Talk with an orthopedic specialist to determine the problem and possible treatments.
To increase safety and improve throwing technique, check with McLeod Sports Medicine.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Sports Medicine Institute, Beaumont Health System, American Journal of Sports Medicine, Journal of Applied Biomechanics