About 1.7 million children and teens participate in some form of organised sports in Australia. One hundred and thirty thousand of them suffer from a sporting injury that causes loss of time in participation and permanent disability. Almost one-third of injuries encountered by children are sports-related. By far, the most common injuries are ankle sprain and strains.
Types of Injuries
While injuries can happen in any sport, they are especially common in close-contact sports and competitive team sports. These include football, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, baseball, softball, and activities involving repetitive movements (cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics).
All types of sports have a risk for injury. Here are the five most common sporting injuries in children.
Knee pain is the most frequent, especially in children’s sports. It is commonly referred to as overuse injury or ‘patellofemoral syndrome.’ Knee pain is often due to different degrees of muscle imbalance and high activity levels in young athletes. Physical therapy following an injury is very successful in knee pain treatment.
One of the most common sports injuries in children is ankle sprains. It occurs when the ligaments that support the ankle have stretched and torn. It can happen in basketball, tennis, soccer, and football -sports that require cutting or twisting actions. Ankle sprains can result in pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and instability of the ankle. Most sprains are minor injuries that heal with the RICE protocol, but sometimes they require treatment by an orthopedic specialist.
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments responsible for stabilising the knee joint. This ligament connects the femur to the tibia. An ACL tear can occur when this ligament is torn during an uncontrolled twisting motion or suffers a huge blow outside the knee. It is common in children and teens that play basketball, volleyball, soccer, and other close-contact sports. An ACL tear may cause pain, swelling, and limited movement to the knee.
Following an injury, there is often damage to other knee structures, which always requires surgery. There is a high rate of return to sports after an ACL tear, but it is safest to wait a few months before returning to play.
Osgood-Schlatter is another type of knee injury different from an ACL tear. It is a traction injury that causes pain and swelling below the knee joint just below the top of the shinbone (tibia). It may come from strong and tight muscles from puberty and also from having high activity levels.
Treatment for Osgood-Schlatter involves getting enough rest, stretching, applying ice, taking NSAIDs, and possibly an over-the-counter knee strap.
Little Leaguer’s Elbow
Repetitive stress to the growth place located in the shoulder can result in another common sporting injury: Little Leaguer’s Elbow. It is common among baseball and softball players, mostly in pitcher, catcher, infielder, and outfielder positions. This injury is also present in other sports where repetitive throwing is required.
Athletes who suffer from little leaguer’s elbow will require complete rest, stretching, and attention to proper form. In severe cases, it may require surgery, and a visit to an orthopedic physician is suggested.
Sporting injury first aid is important. It is good to review common first aid methods to ensure you are prepared in case of a sports emergency involving your children. If you are unsure about the severity, play it safe and seek immediate medical care.
Preparation may prevent a manageable condition from getting out of control. Learn first aid and know how to provide care to any sporting injury.