Youth Sports Injuries

Youth & Kids Sports Injuries

Article by John Miller

Youth Sports Injuries

youth sports injuries

Why Do You Need To Take Youth & Kids Sports Injuries Seriously?

Overall, male and female injury rates are becoming equal due to the gradually increasing female participation rate. 40% of all youth (children, teenagers and adolescents) injuries are sports-related. Injuries related to sports participation fall into two types of trauma:

  • Macrotrauma due to a single traumatic event, e.g. fracture, and
  • Microtrauma due to repetitive overuse.

Injuries in a young athlete should not be underinvestigated. They are usually asked or encouraged to “toughen up and play through the pain.” This approach is not in the young athlete’s best interest for the following reasons:

  • it often leads to both delayed injury healing and returns to sports,
  • it can turn an easily treatable injury into one that becomes difficult to treat,
  • in some cases, it can result in severe permanent damage that precludes future sports participation, or
  • it is a significant life-changing condition, e.g. malignancy, avascular necrosis.

An Accurate Diagnosis is Essential

In most cases, your physiotherapist can make an accurate diagnosis by listening to your child’s injury history and performing a thorough clinical examination. The adolescent’s age, sex, and level of participation in sports are essential. A description of how the injury occurred is valuable. Your physiotherapist will want to know if there was a “pop”, swelling, history of the previous injury, family history of a similar injury, locking or giving way, or other signs or symptoms. They’ll also ask you how much training and game time your child has to detect whether “overtraining” could predispose them to injury.

While special diagnostic tests such as X-ray, MRI and ultrasound scans may be required, in most cases, an accurate diagnosis can be made by taking a good history and performing a systematic examination of the injured structures.

Osteochondritis Dissecans

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee?

The separation of a piece of bone from its main base is Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). The most common region in the body to experience osteochondritis dissecans is your knee. This knee injury is usually due to one major macro event with repetitive macro trauma that prevents complete healing. This injury is potentially severe. Treatment varies from rest to surgery. Early diagnostic assessment and an Orthopaedic Surgeon’s opinion is vital.

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Elbow?

Osteochondritis dissecans is a common source of lateral elbow pain. The immature bones of the elbow joint can compress from excessive overhand throwing. Small fragments of bone and cartilage may dislodge and potentially float within the joint. You may require surgery to remove the loose bodies.

The key to pain relief is active resting from the aggravating sport. If left untreated, throwing injuries in the elbow can become severe conditions. Depending upon the severity of a child’s injury, you may require surgery. If a child’s pain continues after a few days of complete rest, please seek the advice of your physiotherapist or doctor.

What is Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Ankle?

Osteochondritis dissecans is also reasonably common in the ankle joint.

Avulsion Fracture

An avulsion fracture occurs when a small segment of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main bone. The pelvis, hip, elbow and ankle are the most common locations for avulsion fractures in the young sportsperson.

Treatment of an avulsion fracture typically includes active rest, ice and protecting the affected area. This active rest period is followed by controlled exercises that help restore range of motion, improve muscle strength and promote bone healing. Your physiotherapist should supervise your post-avulsion exercises. Most avulsion fractures heal very well.  You may need to spend a few weeks on crutches if you have an avulsion fracture around your hip. An avulsion fracture to your foot or ankle may require a cast or walking boot.

An excessive gap between the avulsed bone fragment and main bone may not rejoin naturally in rare cases. Surgery may be necessary to reunite them. In children, avulsion fractures that involve the growth plates also might require surgery. All avulsion fractures should be reviewed and managed by your trusted physiotherapist or an Orthopaedic Surgeon.

Stress Reaction of Growth Plates (Physis)

Repetitive stress on a child’s growth plate (physis) in the arms or legs, if ignored, can impair growth. It can also be painful.

Overuse stress reaction may lead to irregularity or widening of the growth plate. If you continue repetitive stress, the growth plate may become permanently damaged and could stop growing prematurely. This premature cessation could lead to a bone deformity. Early diagnosis and professional injury management are vital. Please seek the advice of your trusted sports physiotherapist or doctor.

Overuse Injuries

Most overuse injuries, such as stress fractures and tendinopathies, are preventable. If your child suffers any overuse injury, the first treatment choice is to rest until you seek a medical opinion. In young athletes, this means avoiding the activity that is causing the problem, or reducing the intensity, until the discomfort resolves. Bed rest or immobilisation are rarely needed.

Managing your child’s “exercise load” is particularly important. “Gifted” athletes are often the victims of overtraining and over competing. Their natural athleticism encourages their school, club and representative coaches to overplay and overtrain these kids. They are usually the start of the team, and everyone wants them to play.  As a parent, you must convey the volume of training and game time to their coaches. The good coaches will understand that overloading is a manageable problem, But unfortunately, not every coach does what is best for the child!

Tips for Parents and Coaches

Adolescents have a lot of enjoyable sporting years ahead of them. It would be a shame to see this enjoyment ended too soon.

  • Allow your kids to play at their intensity and pace.
  • Encourage your child to start getting in shape and conditioning a month before any team sports begin.
  • Emphasise stretching and flexibility exercises.
  • Start core stability and postural exercises early in life. Gymnasts start very soon to develop excellent body control. This core control should also apply to other sports.
  • Ensure fields are in reasonably good condition and that protective equipment fits correctly (helmets, shoulder pads, shin guards, etc.).

When in doubt, seek expert medical advice. It’s better to be safe than sorry. In general, kids are motivated to play sports because it is fun. Parents and coaches who demand too much may be putting their children at risk.

Common Youth & Kids Sports Injuries

Common Youth Spine Injuries

Common Youth Leg Injuries

Common Youth Arm Injuries

Avulsion Fractures

Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans

Growing Pains

FAQs about Adolescent & Children’s Sports Injuries

Experience the PhysioWorks Difference?

You'll be impressed with the experienced physiotherapists, massage therapists, allied health team and reception staff representing PhysioWorks.

If you've been searching for health practitioners with a serious interest in your rehabilitation or injury prevention program, our staff have either participated or are still participating in competitive sports at a representative level.

To ensure that we remain highly qualified, PhysioWorks is committed to continuing education to provide optimal care. We also currently offer physiotherapy and massage services for numerous sports clubs, state and national representative teams and athletes. Our experience helps us understand what you need to do to safely and quickly return to your sporting field, home duties, or employment.

How You'll Benefit from the PhysioWorks Difference?

At PhysioWorks physiotherapy and massage clinics, we strive to offer our clients quick, effective and long-lasting results by providing high-quality treatment. With many years of clinical experience, our friendly service and quality treatment is a benchmark not only in Brisbane but Australia-wide.

What are Some of the BIG Differences?

We aim to get you better quicker in a friendly and caring environment conducive to successful healing. Our therapists pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest research and treatment skills to ensure that they provide you with the most advantageous treatment methods. They are continually updating their knowledge via seminars, conferences, workshops, scientific journals etc. Not only will you receive a detailed consultation, but we offer long-term solutions, not just quick fixes that, in reality, only last for a short time. We attempt to treat the cause, not just the symptoms.

PhysioWorks clinics are modern thinking. Not only in their appearance but in the equipment we use and in our therapists' knowledge. Our staff care about you!  We are always willing to go that 'extra mile' to guarantee that we cater to our client's unique needs. All in all, we feel that your chances of the correct diagnosis, the most effective treatment and the best outcomes are all the better at PhysioWorks.

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Article by John Miller

Common Youth Leg Injuries

youth sports injuries

Why are Children's Injuries Different to Adults?

Adolescent injuries differ from adult injuries, mainly because the bones are still growing. The growth plates (physis) are cartilaginous (strong connective tissue) areas of the bones from which the bones elongate or enlarge. Repetitive stress or sudden large forces can cause injury to these areas.

Common Adolescent Leg Injuries

In the adolescent leg, common injuries include:

Osgood-Schlatter's Disease

Pain at the bump just below the knee cap (tibia tubercle). Overuse injuries commonly occur here. The tibia tubercle is the anchor point of your mighty quadriceps (thigh) muscles. Because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports, the tendon pulls bone off and forms a painful lump that will remain forever. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy.

More info: Osgood Schlatter's Disease

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Disease

Pain at the lower pole of the knee cap (patella). Overstraining causes Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease. Because of excessive participation in running and jumping sports, the tendon pulls bone off the knee cap. This type of injury responds to reduced activity and physiotherapy.

More info: Sinding Larsen Johansson Syndrome

Anterior Knee Pain

Anterior knee pain or patellofemoral syndrome frequently gets passed off as growing pains. Cause of this pain includes overuse, muscle imbalance, poor flexibility, poor alignment, or more commonly, a combination of these. Anterior knee pain is one of the most challenging adolescent knee injuries to sort out and treat. Accurate diagnosis and treatment with the assistance of a physiotherapist with a particular interest in this problem usually resolves the condition quickly.

More info: Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome

Knee Ligaments

The cartilage between the leg bones have a better blood supply and are more elastic in adolescents than in adults. As adolescents near the end of bone growth, their injuries become more adult-like. Hence more meniscal and ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries are likely. MCL (medial collateral ligament) injuries result from a lateral blow to the knee. Pain felt on the inner side (medially) of the knee. MCL injuries respond well to protective bracing and conservative treatment.

More info: Knee Ligament Injuries

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries

This traumatic knee injury is significant. Non-contact injuries of the ACL are becoming more common than contact injuries of the ACL. Adolescent females are at high risk. Combination injuries with MCL or menisci are common. Surgical reconstruction is needed if the adolescent wishes to continue participating in "stop-and-start" sports.

More info: ACL Injury

Meniscal injuries

Your meniscus is crescent-shaped cartilage between the thigh bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia). Meniscal injuries usually result from twisting. Swelling, catching, and locking of the knee are common. If physiotherapy treatment does not resolve these damages within six weeks, they may require arthroscopic surgery.

More info: Meniscus Tear, Discoid Meniscus

Sever's Disease

Heel pain is commonplace in young adolescents due to the stresses of their Achilles tendon pulling upon its bony insertion point on the heel (calcaneum). It is a common overuse injury due to excessive volume of training and competition, particularly when loads are increased dramatically in a short period. Diminished flexibility and muscle-tendon strength mismatching may predispose you. Physiotherapy, reduced activity, taping and orthotics are the best ways to manage this debilitating condition for the active young athlete.

More info: Sever's Disease

Ankle Sprain

An ankle sprain is probably the most common injury seen in sports. Ankles sprains involve stretching of the ligaments and usually occur when the foot twists inward. Treatment includes active rest, ice, compression and physiotherapy rehabilitation. An ankle sprain usually improves in 2-6 weeks with the correct treatment. Your ankle physiotherapist should check even simple ankle sprains. A residually stiff ankle post-sprain can predispose you to several other lower limb issues.

More info: Sprained Ankle

Patellar Instability

Patellar (kneecap) instability can range from partial dislocation (subluxation) to dislocation with a fracture. Partial dislocation treatment is conservative. Dislocation with or without fracture is a much more severe injury and usually will require surgery.

More info: Patella Dislocation

Osteochondritis Dissecans

The separation of a piece of bone from its bed in the knee joint is Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD). This injury is usually due to one major macro event with repetitive macro trauma that prevents complete healing. This injury is potentially severe. Treatment varies from rest to surgery. An Orthopaedic Surgeon's opinion is vital.

More info: Juvenile Osteochondritis Dissecans (JOCD)

Growth Plate Fractures

A fracture through the growth plate can be a severe injury that can stop the bone from growing correctly. These fractures should be treated by an Orthopaedic Surgeon, as some will require surgery.

Avulsion Fractures

youth pelvis hip avulsion

Image source: https://radiologyassistant.nl/pediatrics/hip/hip-pathology-in-children

An avulsion fracture occurs when a small segment of bone attached to a tendon or ligament gets pulled away from the main bone. The hip, elbow and ankle are the most common locations for lower limb avulsion fractures in the young sportsperson.

Treatment of an avulsion fracture typically includes active rest, ice and protecting the affected area. This active rest period is followed by controlled exercises that help restore range of motion, improve muscle strength and promote bone healing. Your physiotherapist should supervise your post-avulsion exercises. Most avulsion fractures heal very well.  You may need to spend a few weeks on crutches if you have an avulsion fracture around your hip. An avulsion fracture to your foot or ankle may require a cast or walking boot.

An excessive gap between the avulsed bone fragment and main bone may not rejoin naturally in rare cases. Surgery may be necessary to reunite them. In children, avulsion fractures that involve the growth plates also might require surgery. All avulsion fractures should be reviewed and managed by your trusted physiotherapist or an Orthopaedic Surgeon.

For more information regarding your youth sports injury, please consult your physiotherapist or doctor.

Common Youth Leg Injuries

Pelvis & Hip

Knee

Heel & Ankle

Common Youth & Teenager Sports Injuries

Common Youth Neck & Back Pain

Common Youth Arm Injuries