Sports and exercise are great for children, but injuries can happen even when safety precautions are observed. A helmet will keep your child’s head safe, but it can’t prevent a twisted ankle.
Below is information about some of the common injuries kids can experience while playing sports, and tips for treatment.
Details: An injury to a ligament. Ankle sprains are the most common injury in the United States.
How they can occur: Twisting an ankle, tripping and falling or any movement that stretches or tears the ligaments supporting a joint.
When to see a doctor: If your child has severe or prolonged pain or if there is persistent swelling.
Details: An injury to a muscle or tendon.
How they can occur: Repetitive actions, especially if there hasn’t been enough warm-up, improper technique or inadequate equipment. A strain can occur any time a muscle or tendon is overstressed.
When to see a doctor: If your child has severe pain or if he or she can’t put weight on the injured area after resting.
Growth plate injuries
Details: Growth plates are developing tissues at the ends of long bones in children. Solid bones replace growth plates sometime during adolescence. Growth plate injuries, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage and interfere with proper growth of the involved limb.
How they can occur: Overuse, a blow to the body or a fall.
When to see a doctor: A child who has persistent pain should be evaluated by a doctor to determine if a growth plate is involved.
Details: A hairline bone fracture caused by repeated stress.
How they can occur: Inferior equipment and improper diet can make a child more susceptible to stress fractures. Overuse is the most common culprit.
When to see a doctor: If the injury doesn’t respond to RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), see a doctor. Crutches, a cast and/or physical therapy may be needed.
Description: include dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can be fatal.
How they can occur: Children are more susceptible because they sweat less than adults. Playing rigorous sports without enough water or rest can put children at risk.
When to see a doctor: If a child is weak, dizzy or has a headache and doesn’t feel better after 30 minutes of rest and hydration, see a doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if the child is hot but not sweating, seems confused, loses consciousness, vomits frequently or has trouble breathing.
Sources: www.kidshealth.org; The National Institutes for Health, Department of Health and Human Services, www.niams.nih.gov; Northwestern Health Sciences University, www.nwhealth.edu.
author: Laura Knapp