Symptoms of Elbow Throwing Injuries
Little Leaguer’s Elbow
The symptoms of Little Leaguer’s Elbow are pain along the inner part of the elbow with throwing, loss of control, and loss of velocity with throwing. The pain usually gets better with rest and returns with throwing.
Olecranon Stress Fracture/Stress Reaction
The symptoms of an Olecranon stress fracture or stress reaction are similar and result in pain in the back of the elbow when it is fully straightened. This causes pain in the back of the elbow at ball release during a throw.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) of the Capitellum
Symptoms can include painful clicking or catching at the outer part of the elbow or locking of the elbow that requires jiggling or manipulating the elbow to unlock it.
Flexor Bundle Injuries
Pain is localized to the inner (medial) part of the elbow, but is more noticeable at ball release rather than at the cocking or acceleration phases of throwing.
Valgus Extension Overload or Posterior Impingement
These conditions cause pain in the back of the elbow with maximal extension such as with ball release during a throw. There is usually a loss of full extension, bone spur formation in the back of the elbow at the Olecranon, and there may be some UCL laxity.
Loose Bodies and Arthritis
Loose bodies may cause locking or catching of the elbow. Arthritis causes stiffness, loss of motion, and aching of the elbow.
Cubital Tunnel Syndrome/ Ulnar Nerve Subluxation
Subluxation or compression of this nerve may lead to numbness and tingling in the small finger and outer half of the ring finger. This may occur at night when one sleeps on their arm with the elbow flexed or may occur with activities such as pitching. Subluxation is when the nerve slips part way out of its grove. This can cause a popping sensation on the inner part of the elbow. Subluxation is common and most times does not cause a problem.
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Symptoms of UCL Injury
Injury to the UCL may occur acutely with a single event or gradually over time. Acute injuries are usually associated with a painful pop and pain on the inner (medial) part of the elbow. Typically, one cannot throw anymore after this occurs. There is usually swelling in this area. There may be some numbness or tingling down into the small and ring fingers for a few seconds. Chronic injuries are more common and most often occur in baseball pitchers. When the UCL is sprained, one cannot continue to pitch without pain. The pain is usually most pronounced at the cocking and early acceleration phases of throwing. There may be a sense of looseness of the elbow and loss of velocity and control.
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