KidsMD Health Topics

Little League Elbow in Children

  • Overview

    Little League elbow is a broad term that generally refers to an injury to the elbow’s tendons, ligaments and/or bones in a young, throwing athlete. Most of the time, the injury is due to overuse, but it can also be caused by a single, painful injury. 

    • Other conditions that are sometimes grouped with little league elbow are medial epicondylitis (also known as medial epicondylar apophysitis), medial epicondyle fracture and medial collateral ligament injury.
    • Young athletes who play sports like baseball that require a lot of overhand throwing are more prone to getting it, and it’s usually caused by overuse or poor throwing technique. 
    • In most cases of Little League elbow, a child will feel pain, irritation and inflammation in his throwing elbow. He won’t be able to move his elbow the way he normally does, and might not be able to straighten his arm all the way.
    • Your child should not be playing through elbow pain, especially if he plays on multiple teams. 
    • In most cases, Little League elbow can be fixed without surgery, but in some cases a child may have a fracture to a part of the elbow, and he/she may need surgery.
    • Little League elbow can be prevented by limiting the amount of throwing a player does, and following proper technique. USA Baseball has established guidelines to limit pitch counts for players. By following these guidelines, players can reduce stress on their arms and reduce the risk of getting injured.

    How Boston Children’s Hospital approaches Little League elbow

    At Boston Children’s Hospital, our doctors specialize not only in orthopedic care, but in pediatric orthopedic care.  Our clinical experts lead the country in research and care, and have the pediatric orthopedic expertise to treat the unique needs of children and young adults' musculoskeletal systems.

    Each year, our orthopedic team attends to more than 92,000 patient visits and performs over 6,000 surgeries. While assessing Little League elbow, our doctors search for signs that change with age and maturity level and deliver the most precise diagnosis possible so children can get back to their lives.

    Little League elbow: Reviewed by Benton Heyworth, MD

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