Keywords: Elbow, osteochondritis, capitellum (PubMed Search)
9-year-old male left hand dominant, presents with left elbow pain.
He is a future “star pitcher,” says his coach dad. “Doc, I bet you didn’t know that although only 10% of people throw with their left hand almost a 1/3rd of MLB pitchers are lefties. He is 3x more likely than a righty to pitch in MLB.” “Maybe I’m asking him to throw too much.”
Hx: Lateral elbow pain and “stiffness” worse with activity that is better with rest
PE: Lateral elbow tenderness (capitellum) with slight (approx. 20 degrees) decreased loss of extension. Minimal swelling noted.
Dx: Panner's disease refers to osteochondrosis of the capitellum (similar to Legg Calve Perthes). Likely due to AVN from repetitive trauma. May also be due to endocrine disturbances.
Affects the dominant elbow of boys between the ages of 5 and 10
Associated with the repetitive trauma of throwing or gymnastics.
Must be differentiated from osteochondrosis dissecans which occurs in the older child >13yo when the ossification of the capitellum is complete
The articular surface of the capitellum may appear irregular or flattened with areas of radiolucency (43%). Loose bodies not seen with Panners, much more likely with OCD lesions.
Treatment: Ice and NSAIDs. Avoid pitching/gymnastics etc. until full radiographic and clinical healing. If significant pain and/or swelling place patient in long arm posterior splint for 7-10 days. Resolution may take several months and up to one year.