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It’s being called an “epidemic”. More major league pitchers are hurting their arms, being forced to have surgery, and many believe the problem is starting in youth baseball.

Doctors say the main cause of arm injuries is overuse. Most baseball teams have a handful of pitchers who throw the majority of the innings. With many youth baseball teams playing upwards to 50-60 games this spring, it puts a lot of stress on those pitchers’ arms.

Doctors call it Little League Elbow or Little League Shoulder. They say the stress on the arm when throwing causes little tears in the ligaments and tendons, and if you don’t give it enough rest to heal, it can start to hurt.

Doctors say those who pitch through the pain run the risk of permanently damaging their arms — to the point where you would never be able to pitch again. That is why doctors say it’s important for kids to throw with the proper technique and to limit the number of pitches they throw in a game.

“Learning the rules as far as the pitch count rules in the league, make sure the coaches are aware of it, making sure the parents are aware of it, and making sure the kids aren’t on two different teams,” Dr. James Roberson, primary care/sports medicine said.

Roberson recommends all parents of young athletes visit stopsportsinjuries.org. It has recommendations for all sports by the American Society for Sports Medicine.

Roberson says the most important thing is rest. He recommends kids take three months off of organized sprots every year and to not play baseball year round so you can give your arm a break during the off season.