What Is Little League Shoulder?

Pitching can contribute to little league shoulder.Little league shoulder is an overuse injury caused by stress to the arm bone (humerus) nearest to the shoulder. This stress causes widening of the growth plate, resulting in swelling and pain at the shoulder.  It most commonly occurs in youth overhand pitchers between ages 11 and 16.

The following factors contribute to the injury:

  • Repeated overhead throwing without proper rest
  • Pitching and throwing with improper mechanics
  • Lack of muscle strength, specifically in the shoulder and upper back 

If untreated, the condition can worsen, leading to bone damage.  There is a small chance for growth plate closure.  Little league shoulder is often thought to mimic a stress fracture or a pediatric fracture called a Salter Harris Type 1 fracture. The good news is that little league shoulder will often heal completely with rest and a dedicated rehabilitation program.