While participating in sports has a number of benefits for young athletes, it also has its hazards. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that over 2.6 million children 19 and under end up being treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports injuries. Such injuries are by far the greatest type of musculoskeletal injuries that require treatment.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains and strains are a very common type of sports injury. A sprain is an injury to a ligament, a band of tissue that connects bones to a joint; while a strain involves muscles and/or tendons. A strain involving a muscle is sometimes called a “pulled muscle.” Sprains and strains are common injuries in almost any sport.
An ACL injury is a type of sprain, affecting the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), the most commonly injured ligament in the knee. The ACL injury has three grades:
- Grade I is the least severe. The ligament is stretched but not torn, and there is only a little tenderness and swelling. The knee does not feel unstable or give out when being used.
- In Grade II, the ligament is partially torn, and there is moderate swelling and tenderness. The knee may give out when being used.
- A Grade III injury is the most severe. The ligament is completely torn or ruptured, but there is surprisingly little pain. The amount of swelling can vary from a little to a lot. The ligament cannot control the knee, so it will feel unstable and give out.
A torn ACL of any grade is caused by sudden twisting of the knee. Sudden changes in direction while running or falling on one’s knee can also cause a torn ACL.
Girls are more susceptible to torn ACLs than are boys, and basketball players, soccer players and football players are particularly vulnerable.
Repetitive Motion Injuries
A young athlete can also be prone to repetitive motion injuries like stress fractures or tendinitis (inflammation of a tendon). This type of sports injury is caused by overuse of the affected muscle, bone and/or tendon. About 50 percent of all sports injuries treated by doctors are repetitive motion injuries. Tendinitis and bursitis (inflammation of a bursa) are the most common types. Repetitive motion injuries are most common in the knees, elbows, shoulders and heels.
Given that injury can impair athletic performance or even keep a player out of action for weeks at a time, prevention is crucial:
- Children should undergo a physical before starting a sport in order to catch potential problems
- Young athletes should warm up before playing, and condition their bodies well before the sports season
- A sports team or club should have appropriate and well-maintained equipment
- Everybody involved should know and abide by the rules
If your young athlete has suffered a sports injury, you can find help at our office. Call 806.350.BONE (2663) to book a consultation.