Sunday, July 4, 2010

Youth Baseball: Elbow Injury

Two years ago my son broke his elbow pitching. The fracture was in his growth plate. The elbow injury happened because he was compensating for an injured shoulder. The elbow healed very quickly and rehab strengthened the shoulder. He returned to play that year but was prohibited from pitching.

Last year, he had mild discomfort in the arm off and on all year. He did a much better job with pre-game stretching. He was the primary catcher and did not pitch in many games it was a successful injury free year but there were some indications late in the year that an injury was looming.

When the 2010 season started back in January, my son Nic experienced some moderate discomfort in his shoulder. We immediately started him on the shoulder exercises needed to strengthen the muscles around the rotator cuff. My son loves baseball and feared that he would not be able to play ball so he faithfully did the exercises everyday. The shoulder was strong by the start of the season and the discomfort in his shoulder disappeared.

Midway through the season, my son started experiencing elbow discomfort. As a catcher he throws quite a bit, but the problem started when he made a rare appearance in the outfield. A ball in the gap went to the wall. He hustled after the ball and threw the ball all the way into infield without the proper technique. He immediately felt pain. We iced it and continued with the shoulder exercises and got him feeling good again. So good that he wanted desperately to pitch. Smartly, the coach did not allow him to pitch because my son was experiencing temporary discomfort after the games he caught that required lots of throwing.

In the last game of the tournament last weekend, with a runner on and one out. Nic tried to throw out the base stealer. He felt a pop in the elbow and could not finish the throw. The ball sailed into right center field. He was immediately taken off the field for ice.

We went to the doctor the next day. X-Rays were negative which was bad news. Bone breaks heal naturally and quickly in growing boys. The doctor ordered an MRI. We hope that it is tendinitis or similar that can be cured with meds and rehab and not a tear that would require Tommy John surgery.

The Main Point

I allowed my son to dictate whether he played or not. Only he can tell me what the arm feels like. I think that I should have been more proactive and shut his season down earlier. I fear that I violated my pledge to prevent these types of injuries. I will post about the test results on Wednesday.

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