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Common Adolescent Sports Injuries

Common Adolescent Injuries 

With my new clinical rotations at a middle school starting, and with a new school year and sports season starting, I decided to educate all you parents out there on some common adolescent injuries. 

Firstly, I know most kids now are involved in at least one, if not two, sports per season. While it may feel necessary so that your child may go on to bigger and better things at the high school and college level, not giving your child a break from sports could ruin the future they may have in sports. I know, I am one of those children. 

The human body needs a break. After participating in a full season of sports, your child should have, at a minimum, 7-14 days off from all activities (except going to school, of course). This gives the body proper time to recuperate and repair all the little things that might have been building that, if given the chance, would turn into full blown chronic injuries. 

That being said, most people are not aware of this needed break. This is why so many children suffer from chronic injuries that last into adulthood. Some children, however, even with a break, may develop these conditions. That probably means something wasn’t right anatomically speaking, and that they had a higher predisposition to it anyway. 

The most common adolescent injury is called apophysitis. Riederer and Jayanthi from SportsMedToday.com define apophysitis in their article asthe medical term used to indicate inflammation and stress injury where a muscle and its tendon attaches to the area on a bone where growth occurs in a child or adolescent, an area called the ‘growth plate.’” There are many different places that apophysitis can occur, but the three most common are:

  • The knee (Osgood Schlatter’s)
  • The heel (Sever’s)
  • The elbow (Little League Elbow)

Common signs and symptoms of:

  • Osgood Schlatter’s
    • Knee pain and swelling below the kneecap
    • Pain that worsens during activities (especially running, jumping, kneeling) and eases with rest
    • Usually only one knee, but can be both
    • Discomfort can last several weeks or months, or can recur until child stops growing
  • Sever’s
    • Pain or tenderness in one or both heels
    • Swelling and redness in heel
    • Pain with heel squeezed on both sides
    • Stiffness in feet after waking up
    • Limping or walking on toes
    • Pain and symptoms worse during and after activity, eases with rest
  • Little League Elbow
    • Pain on inside of elbow 
    • Swelling at elbow
    • Difficulty extending elbow fully
    • Pitchers may not be able to throw as fast or as accurately

All of these can be resolved with proper rest. Symptoms also usually disappear after the child stops growing. Ice may relieve symptoms, as well as stretching, and non-steroidal-anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). Physical therapy can also help to relieve symptoms with targeted exercises for each case. 

Another beneficial move may be to have your child cross-train with activities that don’t involve running or jumping, such as swimming. 

If your child is experiencing any of the symptoms of these conditions, be sure to schedule an appointment online today

Adirim, T. A., & Cheng, T. L. (2003). Overview of injuries in the young athlete. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 33(1), 75–81. https://doi.org/10.2165/0000725-20 0333010-00006

Little League Elbow (medial epicondylar apophysitis). Lurie Children's. (n.d.). https://www.luriechildrens.org/en/specialties-conditions/little-league-elbow-medial-epicondylar-apophysitis/.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, October 9). Osgood-Schlatter Disease. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osgood-schlatter-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354864.

Riederer, M., & Jayanthi, N. (n.d.). Apophysitis: Sports medicine today. APOPHYSITIS | Sports Medicine Today. https://www.sportsmedtoday.com/apophysitis-va-117.htm.

Su, A. W.-i (Ed.). (2019, January). Sever's disease (for parents) - nemours kidshealth. KidsHealth. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/severs-disease.html.