On a typical day, Aya spends four hours training at her local gymnastics center. The sixth grader has been competing in gymnastics since she was 6. Her goal: To reach Level 10 -- the highest competition level -- by her freshman year in high school, then spend four years at Level 10 to in order to qualify to compete on a college team.
Aya had already reached Level 7 when her elbow began hurting. One morning a few months later, it locked up completely. She told her mother she couldn’t bend it.
She wasn’t in pain, and she looked great,” said Aya’s mom, Kim Jackson. “So I told her to stop kidding and move her arm. But it wouldn’t move.” Jackson took Aya to Duke Orthopaedic Urgent Care, where she was referred to Duke orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Riboh, MD, who specializes in treating children with sports injuries.
After an X-ray and an MRI, Dr. Riboh diagnosed an osteochondritis dissecans lesion. “It’s an overuse injury we only see in children and adolescents who are gymnasts and baseball players,” said Dr. Riboh. “A part of the elbow joint had fragmented. Cartilage and bone had broken loose, acting like a door jamb, blocking any motion of the joint.”