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Three-Quarters of Young Baseball Players Have Arm Pain

But study found many kids are encouraged to stay on the field in spite of their injuries

TUESDAY, Nov. 11, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Arm pain is common among young baseball players, a new study shows.

But despite the pain, many young people are urged to keep playing, the researchers added.

The findings suggest that closer monitoring of young baseball players is needed to prevent overuse injuries.

"Both nationally and internationally, we're witnessing a troubling increase of elbow and shoulder injuries in young baseball players," study leader Dr. Christopher Ahmad, chief of sports medicine and a professor of orthopedic surgery at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and head team physician for the New York Yankees, said in a Columbia news release.

"The likely explanation is that they're throwing too much, too early, putting increasing demands on their bodies that their bodies are not ready for. Despite current guidelines and precautions -- for example, limiting pitch counts and emphasizing off-season rest -- many players are still sustaining overuse injury to their throwing arm. Thus, it's vital that we develop better ways for coaches, parents and clinicians to identify players at risk so we can prevent irreversible injury and season-ending surgery," Ahmad said.

They surveyed just over 200 baseball players, aged 8 to 18, in New York and New Jersey and found that almost three-quarters of them reported having arm pain (rarely, sometimes, often or always) when throwing. Only 26 percent said they never had arm pain when throwing.

Eighty percent of the players reported arm pain the day after throwing. Eighty-two percent had arm fatigue during games or practices, according to the study. More than half said arm pain limited the number of innings they could play, and 75 percent said arm pain limited how hard they could throw, the researchers found.

Pitchers were more likely to have played with pain than infielders and outfielders. One-quarter of pitchers said they often or always had pain the day after throwing, according to the study.

The researchers also found that almost half of players said they were encouraged to remain in a game or practice even if they had arm pain. Among players aged 17 and 18, one in eight said they always felt encouraged to continue playing despite arm pain.

Most of the players said arm pain reduced their enjoyment while playing and prevented them from being a better player, according to the study published online Nov. 10 in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more about children and sports injuries.

SOURCE: Columbia University Medical Center, news release, Nov. 6, 2014
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