Risk factors for shoulder and elbow injuries in adolescent baseball pitchers

Am J Sports Med. 2006 Jun;34(6):905-12. doi: 10.1177/0363546505284188. Epub 2006 Feb 1.


Background: There is little evidence supporting current safety recommendations for adolescent pitchers.

Hypothesis: Pitching practices of adolescent pitchers without history of arm injury will be significantly different from those of adolescent pitchers who required shoulder or elbow surgery.

Study design: Case control study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: Ninety-five adolescent pitchers who had shoulder or elbow surgery and 45 adolescent pitchers who never had a significant pitching-related injury completed a survey. Responses were compared between the 2 groups using t tests and chi(2) analyses. Multivariable logistic regression models were developed to identify the risk factors.

Results: The injured group pitched significantly more months per year, games per year, innings per game, pitches per game, pitches per year, and warm-up pitches before a game. These pitchers were more frequently starting pitchers, pitched in more showcases, pitched with higher velocity, and pitched more often with arm pain and fatigue. They also used anti-inflammatory drugs and ice more frequently to prevent an injury. Although the groups were age matched, the injured group was taller and heavier. There were no significant differences regarding private pitching instruction, coach's chief concern, pitcher's self-rating, exercise programs, stretching practices, relieving frequency, pitch type frequency, or age at which pitch types were first thrown.

Conclusion: Pitching practices were significantly different between the groups. The factors with the strongest associations with injury were overuse and fatigue. High pitch velocity and participation in showcases were also associated with increased risk for injury.

Clinical relevance: New recommendations were made based on these results. Adherence to the recommendations may reduce the incidence of significant injury to adolescent pitchers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Baseball / physiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Elbow Injuries*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Injuries*