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Youth baseball injuries to be aware of (and how Michael Ellerbusch, MD and Southlake can help!)

Ah, baseball. Few things are more enjoyable than watching your child play America’s favorite pastime. However, baseball’s not all fun and games, especially when it comes to your child’s physical health. In fact, there are thousands of baseball-related injuries every year, mostly related to the elbow and shoulder, that are linked primarily to overuse injuries. And while baseball fosters a healthy love of competition, dedication, and teamwork, it can also lead to lifelong injuries that can impact your child’s body and how they feel moving through their daily life. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the major injuries that can occur from playing baseball so that you can take your child to a Non-Surgical Sports Medicine Specialist, like Michael Ellerbusch, MD, should an issue arise.

  1. Little League Elbow
    This injury most often affects pitchers and overhand throwers ages 8-15. Little League Elbow generally presents as pain on the inside of the elbow, due to an injury to or inflammation of the growth plate, that can be very sore and stiff, especially during or after throwing or pitching. The best way to avoid this condition is to stick to the pitch count recommendations and adequate pitching techniques for your child’s age group. If your child does develop Little League Elbow, it’s important to rest the injured arm and seek a specialist’s professional opinion to avoid making the injury worse and to determine treatment options. A good rule for young baseball player is to never throw through pain or never throw through an altered throwing form.
  2. Little League Shoulder
    Much like Little League Elbow, Little League Shoulder (formally known as osteochondrosis of the proximal humeral epiphysis) is caused by overuse, relative shoulder, or scapular weakness, or altered throwing mechanics. This generally occurs in children ages 11 to 17 years old. If your child is complaining of pain in their shoulder, this is a most likely cause. This pain is caused by the inflammation or widening of the growth plate in the proximal humerus (top of the upper arm bone) at the shoulder. The best way to combat this injury is to adjust the number of pitches, to assure proper pitching form, and to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder. If your child is having this problem, bring them to a specialist so that they can have an X-ray to check out the area. Potential treatments once the diagnosis has been made include resting, physical therapy, and symptom management.
  3. Ankle Sprains
    Like all sports that require running, baseball does see its fair share of ankle sprains. A sprain is a type of injury in which the ligaments that connect bones together are stretched or partially torn or completely torn. There are several ligaments in the ankle that can be injured playing baseball, but the most common are the ligaments on the outside of the ankle that connect the fibula (small lower leg bone) to the foot and heel bones. While most sprains will heal up on their own over time, it’s a good idea to see a specialist to confirm that no more intense damage has been done, including potential injury to the growth plate or cartilage. This injury may even require an X-ray to determine if there is also a fracture present. Treatment may include relative rest, physical therapy, breaking/taping, and symptom management.
  4. Concussions
    While you may think your child couldn’t possibly get a concussion from baseball, it happens more often than you would expect. All sports carry the risk of concussions, and baseball is no exception. High-speed running, colliding into opponents, or getting knocked in the head with a ball can all lend itself to a concussion. Concussions occur when a player receives a direct blow to the head or an injury that shakes the brain around causing any neurological symptoms. If a concussion is suspected, pull your child from practice or the game immediately and take them to their physician for further evaluation. Although most concussions are mild and heal spontaneously, if a concussion is suspected, Alabama State Law requires evaluation and clearance by a Physician before an athlete can return to sports. It is also important to watch for “red flag” symptoms such as a worsening headache, increased sleepiness and difficulty to arouse, delayed vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, and other worsening symptoms.  Should these occur, it is recommended to take the athlete to the Emergency Room.

While injuries from baseball can’t always be avoided, it’s important to be an advocate for your child when it comes to keeping them healthy and whole. Encourage your child and their entire team to do an appropriate throwing program before the season starts, to warm up before practice and games; make sure your child adheres to the accepted and published guidelines for pitch count, rest time, and maximal pitches per day; and encourage your child to speak up and let you know if they are experiencing any pain so that you can take them to get the care they need. If your child is suffering from pain due to their favorite sport,  don’t hesitate to bring them in to be checked by Dr. Michael Ellerbusch at Southlake Orthopaedics so he can come up with a personalized plan to treat your child’s injury with most advanced medical technology available. To contact our experienced team of sports medicine and orthopaedic specialists, please click here today

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