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Little League Shoulder

Little League Shoulder

Little league shoulder is a kind of injury of the humerus at a place called growth plate where the bone is still developing. This kind of injury occurs because of stress or overuse where it widens the growth plate, causing swelling and pain in the shoulder.

Little league shoulder is very common among young athletes, aged 11 to 16. With proper treatment, the condition gets better, but if left untreated, it can worsen and cause damage to the bone.

Some of the factors responsible for this injury are:

  • Recurring throwing without required rest
  • Throwing with unsuitable mechanics
  • Less strength in muscles mainly in the shoulder and upper back

With sufficient rest and the required rehabilitation program, little league shoulder can heal completely.


Little league shoulder is an injury of the shoulder caused by stress. In young players, the growth plate is a soft cartilage and is the weakest point, which is why it is prone to injury. With stress or overuse because of repetitive throwing activities, the growth plate experiences several micro traumas. This in turn widens the growth plate, leading to damage if not treated on time.

Symptoms of little league shoulder

The initial symptom of little league shoulder is tenderness of the shoulder, which worsens with time, followed by some other common symptoms, such as:

  • Shoulder pain while throwing overhead
  • Pain while lifting the arm
  • Reduced speed of throwing

Diagnosis of little league shoulder

On meeting, your child’s physician might ask about their complete sports history, such as:

  • Number of sports they are playing each year
  • Number of leagues they have participated in
  • Number of times they throw in a week

For diagnosis, your child’s doctor will do a complete physical examination and might recommend imaging tests like X-rays and MRI to know about the severity of the condition.

In an X-ray, your doctor can see details about the enlarged growth plate. MRI offers a detailed image of both the bone and the soft tissue along with ligaments and tendons.


After diagnosis, your doctor will be able to decide which is the best treatment for your child. Little league shoulder often gets better with traditional management practices, such as:

  • Rest: Your child will be recommended to avoid all throwing actions for a certain number of days.
  • Icing: This assists in lessening the swelling and pain.
  • Physical therapy: Under the supervision of a skilled physical therapist, a strengthening and stretching routine helps make the shoulder and arm strong. More emphasis is given to the core, hip, and legs for increasing stability and throwing capability.

If conservative management fails to cure the condition, surgical intervention might be suggested.


It is possible to prevent little league shoulder by avoiding things that can potentially cause it, such as too many throwing activities without taking proper rest. Other than that, here are a few things to follow to prevent this injury:

  • Avoiding to throw breaking balls until the closure of the growth plates
  • Right pitching mechanics
  • Avoiding pitching year-around
  • Following pitch counts


Little league shoulder is a common injury affecting young baseball players. While it leads to a certain period of obligatory rest from pitching or throwing, recovering is fast and easy. Most players return to play without any major medical interference.

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