Little Leaguer’s shoulder

So, we found out that one of my daughters has Little Leaguer’s shoulder and light tendinitis in her shoulder.  We actually went in to see the sports orthopedic specialist because my daughter was complaining that her back was sore and we were told the reason her back was hurting more than her shoulder was because she might be over compensating her back muscles to make up for the weakness of her shoulders.  So we were scheduled to get an MRI of her shoulder.

Few days later we got the diagnosis that she has what is called Little Leaguer’s shoulders.

So what is Little Leaguer’s shoulder?  It is a very common problem that occurs in the shoulders of young players who are still growing because of over use or using wrong mechanics.

little leaguer's shoulder

Here is the actual MRI of her shoulder.  The spot on the MRI image where the doctor’s finger is, shows separation or widening of the growth plate at one end and a little inflammation above it in the dark region where the mouse arrow is pointing might be a mild tendonitis.

We were told that this only occurs in young children who are still growing because their bones are not fully formed.  This is a condition that usually resolves itself with rest and learning proper techniques of throwing and pitching which is good news.  No casts required!

So why do some kids get affected by over use and wrong mechanics and some kids don’t get bothered at all?  Well, it depends on when they have growth spurt and how strong their muscles are near the shoulders.

So what happens to kids with Little Leaguer’s shoulders when they don’t rest and let their shoulders heal? The growth plate fuses before full growth is achieved and the kids end up with one arm shorter than the other.  We would definitely not want that to happen!

So, for my daughter, it is rest and physical therapy for 4 weeks.  The reason for PT was to learn all the different exercises that she can do to strengthen the muscles near the shoulders and the core muscles in her back so she can come back stronger than she ever was.

The positions that can be affected by this type of injury in softball are, outfielders who throw really hard to get the ball back to infield, fastball pitchers who throw hard and use wrong mechanics even though it is underhanded pitching.

To avoid this type of injury the kids need to limit the amount of pitching to what is recommended for their age level.  See Injury related to pitcher for the pitch counts.

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