Sports Fun Gone Bad: Overuse Injuries in Children are On the Rise
Parents must love children’s sports as much as kids do: We spend our weekends toting kids from game to game and then out for treats afterwards. It’s no treat, though, when your youngster ends up limping in pain after a morning on the field. Overuse injuries in children are on the rise, and sports participation is a big factor in the increase.
Overuse Injuries Hit Kids Too
If you look at the injury rate in adult sports, it only makes sense that kids playing sports get injured as well. The most common overuse injuries affect the knee and the foot. Any time you run, jump, twist, turn, or run into other players, you risk a foot or ankle injury. Because children are still growing and different parts of their bodies grow at different rates, they are more prone to injuries in the muscles, tendons, and growth plates.
In the past, kids used to play different sports in different seasons. As competitive sports for children grow in popularity, your child might now play the same sport year-round. This means they are repeating the same movements over and over. That extra stress can build up and the tissues can become damaged.
Too Much Use, Too Much Pain
Some common overuse injuries in children include Sever’s disease, stress fractures, and sprains. Sever’s disease occurs during a growth spurt—usually around early adolescence. The bones and tendons grow at different rates, pulling on each other. This causes the growth plate of the heel bone (calcaneus) to swell, and the swollen tissue causes pressure and pain in the heel. The condition is aggravated by the running and jumping involved in sports.
When children’s feet are constantly pounding on pavement or athletic fields, the trauma can cause the muscles to become tired. Tired muscles can’t bear the extra force and are not strong enough to absorb the impact, so the stress is transferred to the bones. Stress on bones can cause them to develop tiny cracks—stress fractures—that can be extremely painful.
Any time your child participates in a sport like basketball, baseball, or soccer, the twists and turns of the game can end up damaging the ligaments that hold the ankle in place. A ligament that is stretched too far causes immediate pain, swelling, and an unstable foundation.
What to Do If Your Child Has an Overuse Injury
First and foremost, your youngster must rest from the activity that is causing pain. We know this is hard, but it is the rest of their lives we are talking about. You don’t want them to develop chronic problems that will get worse as they get older.
The next step is to contact Aadvanced Foot Care Associates for diagnosis and treatment. We can find out exactly what is causing their pain and provide the proper treatment. This can be anything from Rest-Ice-Compression-Elevation therapy and activity restrictions, to pain meds, splints, and physical therapy. Kids usually heal quickly, but it is extremely important for them not to return to any activity too soon.
Most overuse injuries in children can be prevented with proper conditioning, protective gear, and equipment. You may not want to let your kids play one sport year-round. Participating in other sports can increase their skills and prevent overuse injuries: a win-win for you and your child.
The experts at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates will provide winning care for your child’s feet. Call us today in Rego Park at (718) 896-4433, in Plainview at (516) 822-9595, and in Flushing at (718) 969-2266. You can also request an appointment right on our website. Here’s to keeping your child injury and pain free!