Sports Medicine

Too much, too soon: Doctors say young athletes are being worn out


The coach agreed to ease him off the pitching schedule. But this summer, when the team was losing at a World Series game in San Diego, Elijah told the coach a fib: “I’m good,” and he got in the game.

He threw a few pitches before he felt pain and a “pop” near his elbow. In September, Elijah, 14, had surgery at Valley Children’s Hospital. He had pulled bone off ligament on the inside of his elbow. A screw had to be inserted to hold the bone in place. The surgery is similar to a Tommy John elbow ligament repair, normally done on adult baseball players like its namesake.

Anthony Torrez said his son’s surgery “tore me apart.” He should have questioned Elijah more about the soreness in his arm, he said.

Increasingly, doctors are diagnosing overuse injuries – stress fractures, bone separations and strained tendons – in young athletes. The injuries have become common enough for researchers to be studying their occurrence, and they suspect more happen than get reported. Sports and medical experts don’t see the trend reversing anytime soon.

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