Little League Elbow



Little league elbow happens when the ligament attached to the inner side of the elbow starts to pull one of the growth plates away from the rest of the bone. Growth plates are weak and easily injured when a child's bones are still growing. Certain types of throwing may lead to this problem, such as:

  • Throwing too hard and too often
  • Increasing the number of pitches per week too quickly
  • Throwing too many curves or sliders at a young age
  • Changing to a league where the pitcher's mound is farther away from home plate or the mound is raised

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in boys who are 10 to 15 years of age. The risk is higher in those who are pitchers, especially those who throw curve balls or sliders.



Problems may be:

  • Pain around the bony knob on the inner side of the elbow
  • Swelling
  • Pain when throwing overhead
  • Pain with gripping or carrying heavy objects


The doctor will ask about the child's symptoms and health history. Questions will also be asked about the child's activities. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the elbow.

Pictures of the elbow may be taken. This can be done with an:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan



The goal of treatment is to ease pain and promote healing. Recovery time ranges from 6 weeks to 3 months.

Options are:

  • Supportive care, such as resting the elbow and using cold compresses to ease swelling
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy to promote strength, flexibility, and range of motion

Some children may need surgery. This is not common.


The risk of this problem may be lowered by:

  • Following age based safety guidelines for the number of a child's games, innings, and pitches
  • Not throwing curve balls or sliders until high school
  • Warming up and stretching before activity
  • Using proper pitching techniques

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.