Participating in sports is a rite of passage for kids, and a great rite as it helps them develop both physically and mentally. While sports programs have taken a bit of a hit due to the current pandemic, some have ramped up, and others are soon to follow.
To ensure your child’s safety on the field, court, or wherever they engage in sports, here’s a look at one aspect you shouldn’t ignore — overuse injuries.
At Genesis Regenerative Sports and Aesthetic Medicine, our team of sports medicine specialists caters to patients of all ages, including young athletes. This speciality group of sports enthusiasts needs to be especially mindful of stressing their musculoskeletal systems, which haven’t fully developed yet.
To help your child participate safely in sports, here’s what you should be on the lookout for when it comes to overuse injuries.
Why children present different concerns
Overuse injuries are never good news no matter your age, but children have a different set of concerns in this arena. Overuse injuries cast a wide net over your body and can affect your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and/or bones. With kids, however, we need to be concerned with a fifth component, too — growth plates.
In fact, all of the structures we mention above are in a growth phase, which leaves them imbalanced and unable to withstand some of the stresses that sports can place on them.
It’s important to understand that in children, overuse injuries go far beyond sidelining your child from their sport of choice, as they can have an impact on their future growth.
Common overuse injuries in kids
To give you a better idea about the types of overuse injuries that can develop in children, here’s a list of some of the more common ones:
- Little leaguer’s shoulder or elbow (including tendon and growth plate issues)
- Stress fractures in the hip
- Achilles tendon issues
- Heel pain that stems from growth plate damage
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures in their feet or shins
This list is by no means comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of the many problems that can crop up in kids who go a little too hard on their developing bodies.
Preventing serious damage
One of the best ways to prevent an overuse injury from affecting your child’s development is to head it off at the pass. While kids may not be as communicative as we’d like, be on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Inability to bear weight, especially after using the affected area
- Bruising or discoloration
If you notice any of these issues, it’s important that you bring your child in to see us as soon as possible. Once a tissue or joint is stressed, it can worsen quite quickly, so we need to intervene to prevent more serious damage.