Treating Upper Extremity Injuries in the Young Athlete

Is your child athletic? Perhaps you have a daughter who loves tennis or a son who can’t get enough of baseball. These sports require repetitive throwing and swinging motions that can lead to upper extremity injuries with time. Such injuries are common in athletes, and they can affect the hand, arm, elbow, or shoulder. Fortunately, at Resurgent Sports Rehab, we can provide the necessary treatments to ensure a safe, easy, and efficient recovery, making sure your child will be able to get back to the sport he or she loves as soon as possible.

What are upper extremity injuries?

Upper extremity injuries typically fall under one of two categories: acute or overuse. Acute injuries are caused by a single specific incident, such as a strain or tear. Overuse injuries are caused by excessive repetitive movements over time. 

Some of the most common types of upper extremity injuries include:

  • Tennis elbow. While this term is colloquially referred to as “tennis elbow,” it can also be caused by other sports and activities, including softball, baseball, raking leaves, and even excessive typing on a computer. Tennis elbow is an overuse injury that results in inflammation of the tendons in the forearm, making it difficult to lift your arm. 
  • Golfer’s elbow. This is another colloquial term, used to describe an overuse injury causing muscle inflammation inside the elbow. It is also sometimes referred to as “Little Leaguer’s Elbow.” This injury runs from the bony point of your elbow and can stretch down your forearm, making it difficult to extend or lift your arm. Sports and activities that generally result in golfer’s elbow include golf, baseball, softball, bowling, and gardening. 
  • Flexor tendinitis. This is an overuse injury that causes swelling in the tendons that control your hand movement, making it difficult to bend your fingers and move your hand or elbow. Flexor tendinitis is typically associated with sports that require constant throwing, such as softball, baseball, football, or shot put.
  • Rotator cuff tear. Rotator cuff tears can occur from either acute or overuse causes, as well. For example, falling on an outstretched arm, sustaining a blow to the shoulder, or partaking in repetitive overhead motions (such as those in swimming, softball, baseball, tennis, or football) can all result in rotator cuff tears. This occurs when the muscles or tendons that surround the shoulder joint become damaged or torn. 

How will physical therapy help an upper extremity injury?

At Rehab Sports Rehab, we’ll conduct a thorough evaluation to diagnose your child’s upper extremity injury. Afterward, one of our dedicated physical therapists will design a personalized treatment plan based on the specific needs of the diagnosis and the symptoms that your child is experiencing. We are happy to say that we also offer preventative screening and sports performance enhancement programs, designed to teach your child the techniques he or she needs in order to prevent further injury in the future. 

Our treatment methods are conservative and non-invasive, aimed at relieving pain and promoting healing. Our physical therapists incorporate specialized methods into their treatment plans as needed, such as manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, or ultrasound. They also provide patients with light stretching and exercise plans, in order to improve their range of motion and overall function in the affected area.

The overall goal of physical therapy is healing and prevention. In addition to treating the injury, our physical therapists will help strengthen the affected area, in order to prevent additional injury from occurring. Our physical therapists will also provide your child with helpful warm-up and cool-down techniques for his or her sport, in order to lower their risk of sustaining another injury. 

If your child has developed an injury in the hand, arm, elbow, or shoulder, contact us today to schedule a consultation. We’ll help diagnose the issue and get your child started on the path toward recovery and returning to the beloved sport!