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Arm pain can be dangerous in young baseball players

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Spring has sprung and with it comes the crack of the bat. Youth baseball is popular for kids of all ages, but if a child has arm pain from throwing parents need to be aware that it can lead to life-long problems.

"Major league players have arm pain that they live with every day. Children have pain for different reasons - because they are hurting their growth plates, they are hurting the cartilage. Their bones are not the same as an adult," said Dr. Paul Saluan, an orthopedic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Children's.

Saluan says when a child throws a certain number of pitches; They need a certain amount of rest to allow the arm to heal from the stress.

Rest requirements are broken down by age. If the arm is not rested properly it can lead to problems with their growth plates, also called an overuse injury. Overuse injuries can cause pain, cartilage damage and early arthritis.

A new survey of youth baseball players who were considered "healthy" shows many of them report having arm pain. Forty-six percent of the players surveyed also reported at least once being encouraged to play through the pain. Saluan, who did not take part in the survey, says it's concerning.

"It's important to number one, realize they have it, recognize it and then it's important to pull them from that activity for the short term. If the pain persists after a day or two, then I do think it's important to have them looked at by a professional," he said.

If arm pain goes away, a child can be eased back into activities. Saluan warns parents to keep a close eye on the situation though, because overuse can create major problems for young athletes.