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Panner's Disease

What Is Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease happens from temporary changes in a bone called the capitellum. It's the outside bone of the elbow at the end of the upper arm bone (the humerus).

Healing can take time, but most kids with Panner's disease do well and have no lasting problems.

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease causes elbow pain around the outside part of the elbow. The pain usually gets worse with activity, such as throwing a ball, and becomes better with rest.

The elbow also may be stiff, swollen, and hurt to touch.

What Causes Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease is caused by stress on the capitellum and the surrounding cartilage. The stress is usually from repeated motions in sports, such as throwing in baseball or tumbling in gymnastics.

Diagram of bones of elbow. Humerus and capitellum are labeled. Arrow points to capitellum and says Panner's disease happens from temporary changes in the capitellum.

Who Gets Panner's Disease?

Panner's disease usually happens in kids who:

  • are early in their growth spurt (usually around 5–10 years old)
  • are active in sports that use the arms a lot

What Do Doctors Do?

To check for Panner's disease, a doctor will:

  • ask about the kid's physical activities, such as sports
  • do an exam, paying special attention to the elbow
  • do an X-ray of the elbow

The doctor will tell a kid with Panner's disease to avoid doing anything that causes pain so the bone can heal. This may mean taking a break from sports.

The doctor also might recommend: 

  • Putting ice or a cold pack on the elbow every 1–2 hours for 15 minutes at a time. (Put a thin towel over the skin to protect it from the cold.)
  • Going for physical therapy to help with stretching and strengthening of the arm.
  • Having your parent give you medicine for pain, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

Sometimes, if the pain does not go away after a few weeks, a kid may need to wear a cast or splint to keep the arm still during healing.

Can Kids With Panner's Disease Still Do Sports?

Kids with Panner's disease usually need to take a break from sports. When playing the sport no longer causes pain, they can try it again. This is usually only a few weeks, but sometimes can take months.

Bones are very good at healing and rebuilding, especially in kids. Over time, the injury to the upper arm bone completely repairs itself. Most kids with Panner's disease have no problems after healing is finished.

Reviewed by: Alvin Wei-i Su, MD
Date Reviewed: 14-01-2019

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