Little League Shoulder
Updated: May 5, 2022
Little League shoulder is a difficult condition to treat and manage, even though there are excellent return rates to previous competition level. According to a study by Bednar, et al. 92.5% of athletes who suffer from Little League shoulder return to their pre-injury competition level. However, treatment typically involves a few months off from throwing. If you factor in that most athletes deal with some pain and discomfort for a couple of months, are told to take 3 months off from throwing, and then require a couple of months to perform a throwing program, you are looking at a potentially lost year of development. Also, no child should have to take a year off from sports, as there are many physical, mental, and emotional consequences as a result.
Let’s take a step back and understand what causes Little League shoulder. Anatomically, we have growth plates at the end of long bones in our body until we stop growing. Boys typically stop growing around 16 years old, while girls stop around 14-15 years old per kidshealth.org. Growing involves the lengthening of bones first, and this occurs at the growth plates. The technical name for growth plates is the epiphysis and the one that causes Little League shoulder is located at the top of your humerus. This image from luriechildrens.org provides a simple visual.
The growth plate is a less dense portion of bone, which allows it to grow but also opens it up to stress. In adults, the weakest anatom