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Doc Talk | Increase in temperatures can mean an increase in injuries among kids

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With warmer temperatures slowly but surely returning, more kids will start to play outside and doctors are preparing for the rush of injuries in children. One of the common sports injuries doctors see is Little Leaguers elbow, common with baseball players. But this and other elbow and shoulder injuries are common in any overhead sport where athletes repeatedly use their upper body. These injuries can be just as serious as an ACL tear.

When Dr. Callista Costopoulos Morris sees elbow and shoulder injuries in athletes, it usually stems from the same thing: overuse. In baseball, it’s usually pitchers abusing the pitch count.

“The risk is these kids play in multiple teams and multiple tournaments and so they might be abiding by the rule in Team A but then they go to Team B, and they say they can pitch another game, when it in reality it should be a pitch count combined throwing thing,” said Geisinger Holy Spirit orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callista Costopoulos Morris.

The severity of the injury can be as minimal as “a muscle strain to a ligament tear, what we call the ulnar collateral ligament” or as severe as Little Leaguers elbow.

“Little Leaguers elbow is what we call it but they can actually fracture through the growth plate due to overuse of throwing or pitching,” said Dr. Costopoulos Morris.

Fracturing the growth plate results in surgery.

“If we fracture a growth plate, often we need a screw to go across it to hold it back together. That comes out in children,” said Dr. Costopoulos Morris.

Depending on the severity and location, a ligament tear may also require surgery, reconstructing the ligament with yours or someone else’s tissue. The recovery time is nine to twelve months. So how do you know when it’s time to see a doctor?

“Morning stiffness of the elbow is a big risk factor so if they wake up after they’ve been throwing and they can’t extend their elbow all the way, that’s a red flag.”

If you or your kids are involved in any of the sports that would affect these areas, Dr. Costopoulos Morris recommends getting an advanced coach that will train you to use your legs and core properly to avoid solely relying on the arm.

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