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Elbow Injury

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  • Elbow Injury

    This is somewhat an addendum or follow-up to a similar thread about arm injuries due to lifting weights:

    In January 2008, my 15 year old son suffered an acute avulsion of the medial epicondyle in his right elbow. In layman's terms, he had a significant fracture of the growth plate located at his inner elbow. He had surgery where two screws were inserted at the break and was placed into a full arm cast for almost seven weeks. The cast was removed was last Friday and he has started ROM exercises in preparation for rehab.

    Brief history of the factors leading up to this injury are as follows:

    1.) He pitched in LL from the ages of 9 to 12. Our league had established pitch count rules long before the National LL adopted them.
    2.) He played/pitched for a local travel team at ages 13 and 14. If anything, we "babied" his arm during travel ball. All our travel pitchers had a pitch limit of 70-75 pitches, rest days were based on previous games pitch count, no pitcher went over 125-130 pitches in a week, etc. In fact, my son didn't learn to throw a curve until last year(at age 14) and threw at most 10% curves in any given game.
    3.) He is somewhat of a "late bloomer". Only in the last 6-8 months did he begin getting hair under his arms, etc., and he's undergone tremendous growth during this time.
    4.) He played freshman football this past Fall, and then was required to attend an off-season conditioning program. However, unlike the other thread, my son said their weight training was supervised by the coaches. I even had my son talk to the head baseball coach(who is also an asst. FB coach) about wanting to do weights more to get ready for baseball season, rather than bulk-up for FB.
    5.) In mid-December, my son started his pre-season baseball conditioning and light throwing. This was being done concurrently with the off-season FB conditioning and weights.
    6.) In mid-January, he was throwing to his catcher at an indoor facility when he felt something pop in his inner elbow. I was there when it happened... he had stretched and warmed up for about 20 min, and was on his ~ 20th pitch at about 75% of his normal when the injury occurred.

    Here is what our Orthopaedic Specialist told us; this injury usually occurs in younger pitchers from over-use, but the weight training my son was doing was also a determining factor. My son had probably strengthened the bicep/tricep more than the forearm, which led to new forces and torque on his elbow. This coupled with the added stress on the growth plates from the weightlifting. So much for coach supervision, etc. I'm kicking myself in hindsight because I had never had him lift weights before, and I don't think he was physically ready for weightlifting yet.

    The rehab regime set-up by the Orthopaed is as follows: 2-3 weeks of ROM exercises, followed by PT, with light throwing by late March or early April. Definitely NO pitching this year, but Dr. doesn't see any reason why my son couldn't be making the throws from SS by early May.

    Does anyone have experience with this type of injury? Any advice on ROM exercises or rehab? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.



  • #2
    Twitch, sorry to hear about the injury. I am not qualified to give any advice for the rehab or treatment.

    While improper weightlifting can cause injuries in youngsters, I hate when doctors jump to conclusions if they don't know the entire situation.

    I've been to 2 "respected" doctors, one was actually a sports orthopedist, for problems with my neck and back. The advice that they gave me about weight training and exercise was incredulous and medievel at best. So when it comes to a doctor being able to diagnose that weight lifting is the culprit of injury, it does not hold much merit unless I know that that particular doctor has experience or knowledge in the exercise and training areas.

    I posted a lot of info about weight training and children in this thread:
    I've recently read 2 more good articles on the subject that I will try to link if possible. It's important that parents educate themselves, and then don't be afraid to ask the coaches what type of stuff they are doing and their qualifications. Any coach worth their salt would be happy to explain their program if approached in an appropriate, non-attacking manner.
    MAXX Training - the latest on sports training & athletic performance!


    • #3

      I'm sorry to hear your son suffered this injury. My son suffered the same one almost 2 years ago, when he was 11.

      I have to run out right now, but I'll try to logon again later and share some of our journey back. The good news: after not pitching at all his 11YO year, he came back last year and pitched a very solid 12YO LL year, w/ no further pain in the elbow. Lots of physical therapy over the winter before, as well as arm tubing exercises almost daily.

      If I don't get back on today, feel free to PM me.

      Good luck,


      • #4
        I guess I don't really have much to add, unless you have some specific questions? I will say that my son, like yours, was going through growth spurts and got a lot stronger in one winter (for a 5' 100 lb. prepube ).

        He fractured the growth plate in his elbow while pitching in a preseason scrimmage. And he doesn't really throw that hard either, and his mechanics aren't bad (please no Marshall ).

        But after coming back a few weeks after the injury, he injured it again hitting. The rapid extension did it. After a couple more weeks off, he came back fine, but as his manager, I didn't pitch him the whole season. He just played 2B mostly.

        He finished the year through All-Stars, but never was really throwing totally pain-free. Then later that August, we were playing catch in the yard and he felt it pull again. This time, MRI revealed a partial tear. So we shut him down from all throwing through the end of the year calendar year. He did physical therapy for a month or so, then continued the banding exercises 4-5x per week. We eased him back into throwing that Spring, and he has been fine in the elbow area since then (w/ occasional bicep pain, which subsides w/ ice and I consider "normal").

        Again, if there's anything else you'd like to discuss that I might help in any way, please don't hesitate to ask.

        Good luck to your son and your family,


        • #5
          MSandman -

          Did your son's injury require surgery and screws, or did he just need rest/rehab? Has he fully recovered? Is he pain-free?




          • #6

            Do not let him return to the way he was previously throwing because that is what injured him.


            Have him continue to throw the same way that got him injured and then you can say my head is OK stuck in the sand!


            See what is happening, the general weight trainers are still doing football training on Baseball players and then getting blamed for throwing related injuries!

            This early Fall one of my Junior Lefties started working with a very experienced general weight Trainer, two weeks into their “Olympic lifts” he broke his back which he has fully recovered from. The Head baseball coach told me he was a sissy for missing the Fall weight training program even though he did twice the correct work with his rehab guy that included throwing related training. This kid should have made Varsity but the coach saw him as a training room guy.

            What do you think about doing Pre-hab with the same routines rehab professionals use all the time?
            Primum non nocere


            • #7
              Originally posted by Dirtberry View Post

              Do not let him return to the way he was previously throwing because that is what injured him.

              Dirtberry -

              Nice blanket statement!
              It wasn't the throwing motion which caused this injury. Why do you automatically blame mechanics and dismiss improper weight training? Why can't an overzealous football coach who promotes weight training (including "busting" and required weight goals by position) be of equal blame. Especially when we are talking about many 14 and 15 year olds who still have significant growth ahead of them.



              • #8

                I believe Dirt was just going on what YOU said. I dont believe it was a blanket statement at all.

                Here is what you posted:

                "6.) In mid-January, he was throwing to his catcher at an indoor facility when he felt something pop in his inner elbow. I was there when it happened... he had stretched and warmed up for about 20 min, and was on his ~ 20th pitch at about 75% of his normal when the injury occurred."

                Nowhere did you state that your son had problems while lifting weights. Only that when he was throwing to a catcher at an indoor facility when he felt a pop.

                You were there when it happened. So how can you think that it wasnt the throwing motion?????

                Im not saying that the football coach has no part in it at all, BUT he hurt himslef while throwing to a catcher, not while lifting. You even went as far to say that his lifting was supervised.

                I agree with Dirt that it was his throwing motion.


                • #9

                  No, he didn't require surgery, and yes, he's fully recovered, w/ no pain in the elbow at all.

                  You other Marshallites really need to get over yourselves a bit. Geez, thousands of kids throw w/ "improper" mechanics and don't get this injury. And just because Twitch was there when it happened doesn't mean it wasn't overuse (who knows how much he pitched when younger?) or too much too soon in the preseason or genetics or whatever??? Perhaps there's more to it than mechanics? :noidea


                  • #10
                    For anyone that's interested and/or is wondering about my son's pitching mechanics; I started a new thread with some pictures of his mechanics.




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