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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Little League shoulder is usually caused by overuse or poor throwing technique, and most often occurs in pitchers, catchers and other athletes who do overhand activities, including volleyball and tennis players. There are three bones that make up a shoulder—the collar bone, the upper arm bone and the shoulder blade. The shoulder blade and the upper arm bone are connected by a joint, and very close to that joint is a growth plate.
Growth plates are small, soft parts of a bone that are located near both ends of long bones. In the case of Little League shoulder, doctors are most concerned with the growth plate that sits high on the upper arm bone, near the shoulder. If that growth plate is inflamed or irritated, it usually means the child has Little League shoulder.
If your child has the following symptoms, he should see a doctor:
• Shoulder pain while throwing
• Soreness that lasts a few days
• Slower and less controlled throws than normal
• Swelling or tenderness near the shoulder
In general, your child should stop throwing for three months, and attend physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the shoulder muscles. Children usually return to sports in several months, with approval from their doctor and physical therapist. Read more about treatment and care.
It’s important to note that Little League shoulder can be prevented. Talking to a child’s pitching coach about the way they throw, where they release the ball, and how they position their arm and wrist can help improve technique and protect from pain.
USA Baseball has put together guidelines for how much throwing an athlete should do on a regular basis:
These pitch counts should also be applied to athletes who belong to multiple teams at a time, or play in multiple leagues per year. It’s recommended that athletes take three months each year off from their sport, and vary sports in order to diversify muscle groups and give their throwing muscles a break.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”