6 Common Sports Injuries in Children (and What to Do About Them)

Active kids enjoy a host of physical and mental benefits from engaging in what they love to do. Unfortunately, the risk of sports injuries will almost always be there no matter how many precautions you take (and you should still definitely take those precautions).

According to Yale Medicine, about one-third of childhood injuries will occur while playing sports. If and when a sports injury does occur, it’s always important to give it the proper attention. 

Just “walking off” an injury increases the risk of developing a more severe, painful, or chronic problem. Children can experience many of the same types of sports injuries that adults do, and that means they can also suffer the same consequences from improper healing.

child sports injuries

A Wide Range of Sports Injury Treatment

Premier Podiatry & Orthopedics provides comprehensive and compassionate care for a wide range of children’s sports injuries. 

We are not just here for the feet and ankles, either! Our specialists treat musculoskeletal sports injuries throughout the body. Dr. Michael Shea, our newest associate, has extensive experience in sports medicine in both family practice and professional sports settings.

We will be reviewing a number of common sports injuries children face here, but don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help for something that is not on this list. We’re here to help your family get back to action as quickly and as safely as we can.

Some (but far from all) of the types of sports injuries we treat include:

Ankle sprains

Ankle sprains are arguably the most common sports injury out there. Most people will sprain their ankle at least once in their life, often during childhood or adolescence.

A sprain is an injury to a ligament in a joint, often caused when a sudden twist causes the tissue to overstretch and sometimes tear. Sports that demand lots of quick turns or pivots – such as football, basketball, and soccer – tend to create a higher risk of ankle sprains.

Most ankle sprains are minor and can be treated with simple, conservative methods at home. However, sprains that do not heal properly can lead to further instability of the ankle joint, chronic pain, and a higher risk of reinjury and post-traumatic arthritis. Take your child to see us if you have concerns about their ankle after a sprain, or if recovery does not appear to be happening as quickly as it should.

“Little league” elbow

Named for how common it is among youth baseball and softball players, this condition is marked by pain and tenderness on the inside of a child’s elbow. Specifically, the growth plate (areas of a bone where new bone is produced as a child grows) becomes overstressed or traumatized.

This is an overuse injury caused by sports where hard, repetitive throwing is required – hence how it tends to be seen in pitchers, catchers, and other baseball and softball positions.

“Little league” shoulder

Just like its cousin in the elbow, this is a cause of shoulder pain in which the growth plate in this location becomes strained through overuse. 

While also common in sports requiring repetitive throwing, the motions associated with tennis and swimming can make this condition common to these sports as well. 

child sports injury

ACL injuries

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) connects the thigh bone to the shinbone within the knee. An injury to the ACL can cause severe knee pain, instability, and a reduced range of motion.

Sports that involve sudden pivots, changes in direction, or changes in speed can strain, tear, or fully rupture the ACL. This places sports such as basketball, soccer, football, and skiing at a higher risk for this injury. An ACL strain or tear can also occur due to a direct collision against the outside of the knee, or a bad landing from a fall or jump.

Meniscus tear

Another injury within the knee, a meniscus tear is an injury to one or both of the C-shaped pieces of cartilage located between the thigh bone and shinbone in each knee. This injury tends to occur following a severe twisting motion during activity. 

Symptoms of a meniscus tear can be similar to those of an ACL injury: knee pain, limited range of motion, and instability.

Turf toe

While ankle sprains are very common, it is also possible to sprain your toe. The big toe most commonly experiences this painful injury – so much that it has been given its own name: turf toe.

Turf toe occurs when the big toe becomes hyperextended. This usually happens when the foot is firmly planted against the ground, but a large force sends the toe upward. 

We most frequently see this injury in sports where cleats can become “locked” against turf (hence the name). The victim can try to push off the ground too hard with their cleats not cooperating, or they may be tackled in a way that forces their toe to bend.

What to Do for a Child’s Sports Injury

A sports injury can occur suddenly, or “creep up” over time due to overuse. Regardless of the circumstances, the best action to take when realizing there’s a problem is to stop the current activity, if one is going on. The more your child moves aggravates the injury, the greater the risk of further trouble.

Begin RICE therapy as promptly as possible. RICE stands for:

  • Rest. Keep weight and strain off the affected area.
  • Ice. Apply ice or a cold pack (always wrapped in a thin towel to avoid skin damage) to the injured area for 10-20 minutes, several times per day.
  • Compression. Wrap the injured area with an elastic bandage, making sure not to constrict circulation. Skip this part if you are not confident in your wrapping skills.
  • Elevation. Keep the injured area at or above the level of the heart whenever sitting or lying down, if possible.

When conducted within the first 48 hours, RICE therapy can have a significant impact on reducing pain and swelling. 

If the condition is severe or has not improved much within a day or two, please give us a call. We can provide you with further advice or ask you to bring your child in for an evaluation.

We are always happy to help you and your family, no matter the situation. You never have to hesitate or ask yourself whether a problem is “too minor,” either. In fact, we wish more people would contact us sooner, before things become worse!

Schedule an appointment with us by calling (916) 961-3434 or texting (279) 800-4542. You can also fill out our online contact form!

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Carmichael Office

6620 Coyle Avenue,
Suite 202

Carmichael, CA 95608

Roseville Office

576 N Sunrise Avenue,
Suite 230

Roseville, CA 95661

Phone: 916-961-3434

Text: 279-800-4542

Fax: 916-961-0540

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8am-5pm

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