Hi Coach, Im writing with some bad news about my 11YO Son, His primary position is catcher and probably catches 2/3s of the innings for our team. We are a 11U B team that has been practicing since november, usually 2 x a week. Our season started in early April, we have played 6 league games and 7 tourney games, Besides catching he has pitched 4 innings 2 outings of 2 innings each. Probably about 45 pitches each outing. He does practice pitching 2 -3 times a week about 30-45 pitches each practice. About 3 weeks ago I noticed his throws down to second were not as fast as they usually were. He did not complain of pain or a tired arm so I didnt think too much about it. Last weekend 5/25 Saturday , we were in the back yard and he was working on his pitching (i actually wanted him to work on his blocking but he told me he wanted to pitch so thats what we did). We started with our normal throwing progression elbow at shoulder height out in front of torso (like throwing a dart) then a bit further with trunk turn with arm at the high cocked position then easy throwing from 40 ft. Then we started pitching. Working only fastballs at first probably 15 pitches then some changes probably another 15. Then on to a few “batters” where i mix up the pitches and locations and call balls/strikes. About 10 pitches in I saw him wince and he grabbed his elbow. He said there was no “pop” but he had a sharp pain in his elbow. So we iced for a few hours and then a heating pad that night. The pain was still there the next day so we took him to a walk in clinic where they did x-Rays and said that it was most likely tendonitis but take him to his pediatrician. So last wednesday we took him to his doctor who referred us to a Orthopedic specialist. We met with the surgeon and he explained that it is damage to his growth plate. Basically at his age it has not completely turned into bone its more like cartilage and was pulling away from the elbow and that the only way to get it better is to not throw a baseball for 90 days. He said he can swing a bat but absolutely no throwing. I agreed to his prescription and he actually thanked me for not arguing with him. He said he sees this a lot in young pitchers and was probably due to over use. He also said that he gets a lot of flack from parents that say their kid needs to play because of this or that. Well my take is that there is nothing to gain in the long term by playing 11U. So we shut him down
Heres my question does that sound normal? or like too long of a rest. The other thing that is bothering me is that he is unable to straighten his arm out. After over a week I would think that he would be able to. Is that common for that type of injury. Do not get me wrong I am not trying to rush him Im just looking for another informed opinion from someone who has experience with young pitchers. We own the first pitch warm up and recovery but up until now I didnt force him to do it, guess what is changing from here on out.
Thanks For your time, great advice and instruction
I would get a second opinion from a sports medicine ortho who has experience with baseball pitchers.
I got this the ASMI.org website from one of their orthopedics. You always contact ASMI in Birmingham and ask them to refer you to one of their orthos who have worked under Dr. James Andrews.
I am assuming your son has a medial epicondyle fracture. It is important to know whether or not the fracture is “displaced” or moved. On some occasions, this injury is most optimally treated with surgery. However, if the fracture is not out of place or is minimally displaced, casting or immobilization is the standard of care. Your orthopaedic surgeon is the only one who has the x-rays and needs to make that decision.
When your son comes out of his cast, you should not rush him back to throwing. He needs to do an appropriately supervised throwing program that allows him to gradually return to throwing. A sports medicine trainer or therapist should be able to provide you with this information as well as exercises to help prevent injury in the future. It is possible, he may be able to bat and play first base while he is working his arm into shape for throwing. However, only your doctor can make this decision. I certainly would error on the side of caution. He is only 11 and you don’t want to cause any problems that could effect his ability to play baseball in the future.
Hope this helps,
Eric Keefer, MD
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