Elbow Overuse Injuries: How Do They Happen?

The human body is an amazing machine. It is designed for many functions and to perform many different tasks. However, sometimes, various parts can be over-used and suffer injuries. One of the body parts prone to overuse injuries is the elbow. Over the last several years, doctors have noticed an increase in elbow overuse injuries in children. Most of these injuries are sports related. If your child is an athlete, you may be curious to know how these specific injuries occur.

Due to the fact that children’s young bodies are still rapidly growing, they can be more prone to injury in general. Many sports, such as softball, baseball, swimming, and gymnastics require repetitive use of the same body part. These injuries occur overtime. For overuse injuries of the elbow, pitching in baseball or softball is the common culprit, as added stress is placed on this body part. Overuse injuries can occur in many different tissues, such as muscles, bones, growth plates, tendons, and ligaments. These injuries are becoming more common due to the fact that kids are sticking more and more to the same sport year round, instead of changing sports participation with the seasons.

Another factor to consider is that growth is usually uneven in children. For instance, bones usually grow before muscles and tendons, making muscles and tendons tighter before their growth catches up to the bone growth. Bone growth happens in areas of developing cartilage, and these areas are referred to as growth plates. This uneven growth makes kids more prone to overuse injuries in growth plates.

If your child complains of pain related to a sport, it is imperative for your child to take a break from that sport until the pain subsides. This gives the injury time to heal and helps to prevent over-use injuries. If the pain continues even after having a period of rest, it is time to see a doctor. An overuse injury not only causes pain and disruption to normal function, but it can also cause abnormal or slowed growth of a bone. Elbow overuse injuries should be taken very seriously for this reason. If you think your child may have an injury, the Pediatric Orthopedic Associates of San Antonio can help. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.