Over 25-million boys and girls participate in baseball or softball each year. And this number is steadily increasing.
As the number of participants grow, so does the number of injuries each year. With increases in competition, travel teams, tournaments, and showcases, along with earlier sport-specialization, youth injuries have become much more prominent in recent years, mainly due to overuse.
In this upcoming series, we focus on common youth injuries in the overhead athlete. Here is a brief overview of what will be discussed in the coming weeks.
Growth plates, or epiphyseal plates as they're referred to in the medial literature, are located toward the ends of our bones. These areas contain cells that are rapidly dividing which allow more growth to occur in this area at faster rates.
In the humerus, the bone of the upper arm, there are two growth plates: one by the shoulder and one by elbow. In youth athletes, due to the attachment of ligaments and tendons, these areas can take a lot of stress during the throwing motion and eventually lead to small fractures. These injuries are more commonly referred to as Little Leaguer's Shoulder or Elbow. In severe cases, surgery is warranted, but most commonly rest and rehab is necessary.
Osgood-Schlatter’s and Sever’s Disease
These two conditions occur at the knee and heel respectively. These conditions arise when the Quadriceps tendon at the bottom of the knee or the Achilles' tendon at the heel exert too much force on the bones to which they are attached. The bone responds to this stress by laying down more bone in an effort to heal itself. However, this bony area is inflamed and irritated during this process. Treatment of these conditions can include several months of rest from the athlete’s
sport so catching it early is paramount to staying healthy and active.
Spondylolysis is an injury to the lumbar spine in the lower back. Essentially it consists of stress reactions and potentially a fracture in a specific part of the vertebra called the pars interarticularis. This area that becomes overstressed due to continuous, repetitive extension and rotatory type movements of the spine - very common movement performed when throwing and hitting....
Even prior to a stress fracture, signs and symptoms can become present. These include pain in the lower back, apparent hamstring tightness, weakness in the lower extremities, loss of hip mobility, and decreased overhead flexibility. In severe cases, it can progress to injuries in other areas of the spine as the body tries to compensate for itself. In less severe cases, it may still be recommended that the athlete rest for several weeks and rehab before returning to sport.
Why is this important to know?
Our goal in this blog series on youth injuries in the overhead athlete is to educated players, coaches, and parents of signs and symptoms of these common, overuse injuries so that we can better identify potential issues prior to them becoming full-blown injuries keeping you or your child away from the field for an extended period of time.
“Baseball and Softball Combine to Become Most Participated Team Sports in United States, According to SFIA Report.” Team USA, www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball/News/2017/May/18/Baseball-and-Softball-Combine-to-Become-Most-Participated-Team-Sports-in-United-States.