Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fauquier Health Physical Therapists Help to Prevent Throwing Injuries in Young Athletes

Bruce Edwards III, PT, DPT and Kristen Pierce, PT, DPT provided a community presentation at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, VA on Thursday, February 23, 2012 to the Virginia Generals U8 baseball team, parents, and coaches. The Virginia Generals U8 baseball team is a travel team in the Old Dominion Baseball League. Players on this team currently live in a radius encompassing Culpepper to Vienna, Virginia.

The presentation stressed that overuse injuries are the most common type of injury that affect young pitchers. It is estimated that up to 40 percent of young pitchers develop an overuse injury with shoulder and elbow injuries the most common. An overuse injury is an injury caused by repetitive stress to muscles, tendons, and connective tissue that does not have time to heal. This is important with the younger population because the youth pitcher has more compliant connective tissue, open growth plates, and underdeveloped muscles. There are many theories as to why athletes are experiencing more overuse injuries, but the main theories are increased sport specialization and focus on year round sports.

It was stressed that the best treatment for overuse injuries is PREVENTION. In a February 2011 publication of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers of a 10 year study reported that participants who pitched more that 100 innings in a year were 3.5 times more likely to be injured. Adhering to pitch count regulations and proper rest periods were stressed as key to preventing injury. Proper pitching mechanics, age appropriate types of pitches, competition less than 9 months a year, proper conditioning, stretching, and proper monitoring by coaching staff were also stressed.

If pain arises in the elbow or shoulder area in the youth pitcher, it is recommended that the athlete immediately reduces the amount and intensity of throwing. Ice and rest are recommended, but if pain persists after 3 days of rest, it is recommended that the player consult with a sports medicine physician. A study by Braum et al 2009, also recommended that physical therapy and rehabilitation, with very few exceptions, should be the primary treatment for throwing athletes.

In summary, youth pitching injuries are on the rise at an alarming rate. Complaints of elbow and shoulder pain from the throwing athlete should be taken seriously. Proper rest is the most important weapon to combat overuse. However, if problems do arise, it is encouraged to collaborate with a sports medicine team including physicians and physical therapists with an interest in baseball.

At Fauquier Health Outpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, we have several therapists who have a special interest in rehabilitation of the young athlete with both throwing injuries and all other types of sports related injuries. The goal is to get the young athlete back to sport pain free.

If you feel you or someone you know may benefit from this service and would like to hear more, please call us at 540-316-2680. Or click on the button below to ask a question.