Arm pain in youth baseball players: a survey of healthy players

Am J Sports Med. 2015 Jan;43(1):41-6. doi: 10.1177/0363546514555506. Epub 2014 Nov 3.


Background: Overuse injury in youth baseball players is increasing in prevalence, and these injuries have been correlated to pitching mechanics and pitch counts/types. Prior studies regarding arm pain in these athletes have focused simply on presence or absence of pain during the season rather than on detailed factors related to arm pain with respect to frequency, severity, and associated performance and psychosocial effect.

Hypothesis/purpose: The goal of this study was to investigate frequency, quality, and effect of arm pain in healthy youth baseball players. The hypothesis was that arm pain will affect a majority of healthy baseball players and will be associated with adverse psychosocial effects.

Study design: Descriptive epidemiological study.

Methods: A novel survey focusing on arm pain in youth baseball players was developed for the purpose of this study. Survey questions were formulated by a consortium of trainers, clinicians, and coaches. Surveys were administered to healthy youth baseball players throughout the states of New Jersey and New York.

Results: A total of 203 healthy players completed the survey; 23% of players (n=47) reported a prior overuse injury. Only 26% and 20% of players reported that their arm never hurt when throwing or the day after throwing, respectively; 30% of players reported that arm pain at least sometimes caused them to have less fun playing; and 46% of players reported at least once being encouraged to keep playing despite having arm pain. Pitchers were more likely to report arm pain while throwing and the day after throwing and to indicate that arm pain held them back from being a better player (all P<.05). Those with prior overuse injury were more likely to have arm pain while throwing, to have arm fatigue during a game or practice, and to be encouraged to keep playing despite having pain (all P<.05).

Conclusion: A majority of healthy (actively competing) youth baseball players report at least some baseline arm pain and fatigue, and many players suffer adverse psychosocial effects from this pain.

Keywords: overuse injury; survey study; youth baseball.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arm
  • Athletic Performance* / psychology
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / psychology*
  • New Jersey / epidemiology
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Recurrence