Sports injuries are the second leading cause of emergency room visits for children and adolescents, and the second leading cause of injuries in school. Approximately three million youth are seen in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries and another five million youth are seen by their primary care physician or a sports medicine clinic for injuries. These numbers leave out the injuries not seen by a physician.*
Physical activity is necessary for normal growth in children. However, when the activity level becomes too intense or too excessive in a short time period, tissue breakdown and injury can occur. The single biggest factor contributing to the dramatic increase in overuse injuries in young athletes is the focus on more intense, repetitive and specialized training at much younger ages.
The following risk factors predispose young athletes to overuse injuries:
Early recognition and treatment of injuries is critical in returning athletes to their sport safely and quickly. Any injury that involves obvious swelling, deformity, and/or loss of normal function (i.e. movement or strength) should be seen by a physician immediately. All other injuries that appear to be minor should resolve in just a few days. However, if it does not heal on it’s own, and your child is not back to full participation without pain, it is best to have him/her evaluated. Nagging injuries that go untreated can turn into chronic problems that require a much longer time away from the sport to allow the injury to heal properly.