Common Sports Injuries for Young Athletes

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It’s almost time to start cheering on your favorite athletes again.  From football and volleyball, soccer and tennis, the start of the school year means fall sports are about to begin. While the beginning of any sports season is exciting, it is important to be aware of the most common injuries and how to treat and prevent them. Neighbors Emergency Center reminds you were are ready 24/7 to handle any sports injury that may occur this season.

Ankle Strains and Sprains
Ankle sprains are extremely common among young athletes. Kids and teens often come down too hard when they catch a ball, or simply twist their ankles while running. When this injury takes place, the ligaments in the ankle tear or stretch too much. Although the ligaments in our bodies are stretch naturally and allow for movement, too much movement will lead to a sprain. The chances of this happening are more common if your child plays a sport where they jump frequently such as basketball, soccer or volleyball.

If your child’s ankle is in pain after a sports injury, chances are they may have sprained their ankle. Besides pain, symptoms may include tenderness, swelling, bruising, stiffness, itching and cold or numb feet. If you hear a “pop” or similar noise, their ligament may be torn severely. Most ankle pain will heal on its own, normally between a 2 to 12 week period. But if your child’s ankle pain is extreme and they struggle to put weight on it, be sure to contact their pediatrician.

Shoulder Injuries
Young athletes are vulnerable to shoulder injuries because their joints are naturally looser than adult athletes. A common injury young athletes may experience is a dislocated shoulder. A sign of this is usually a loud “pop” noise, followed by pain. Dislocated shoulders should always be put back in place by a medical professional. Athletes who use their arms repetitively are also in danger of developing rotator cuff tendonitis. Rotator cuff muscles are located deep within the shoulder, near the shoulder blade. When these muscles get overworked it can cause a lot of pain. If your child is experiencing pain during normal athletic activities, especially with motions that happen overhead, they may have this shoulder injury.

Your child can strengthen their rotator cuff muscles and prevent shoulder injuries with physical therapy. All young athletes that experience shoulder pain should have an X-ray done to make sure their growth plate is not injured.

Shin splints
If your child is complaining about pain in their shins, they may be suffering from shin splints. This is caused by stress on the shinbone, as well as the connective tissues and muscles to the bone. Shin splints can be caused by flat feet, shoes that don’t fit well or provide support and not stretching when warming up or cooling down.

Shin splints often heal on their own. Healing can include resting the body and giving it time to recover from physical activity. Your kids can also ice their shins for 20-30 minutes every 4 hours for 2 to 3 days to ease any pain or swelling. You can also give them aspirin or ibuprofen.

Hamstring Strain
Hamstring injuries occur when you put strain on your hamstring muscles located in the back of your thigh. Three muscles form the hamstring and pulling one, or all of them, can lead to a serious injury. Hamstring pulls are most common in soccer, basketball, football and tennis. When this injury occurs, there is normally a sharp pain followed by a tearing sensation. Additional symptoms include muscle weakness and the inability to put weight on the leg.

You should be able to treat your child’s hamstring injury at home with rest, ice and over-the-counter pain medications. The swelling should subside, and they should slowly gain back their muscle strength. However, be sure to see a doctor if your child can’t walk more than 4 steps without significant pain. Serious hamstring injuries can take months to heal with a complete heal time of 6 to 12 months.

Sometimes preventing a sports injury is beyond your control. However, here is what your child can do before they go out on the field. Make sure they are properly conditioned. If your child plays baseball and has not been active all summer, the first time they exert all their energy should not be during the first game. Remind them to take the time to properly warm up. Warming up increases the blood flow to the muscles, allowing them to become more flexible, and decreasing the chances of an injury.

Make sure your child knows if they are fatigued during practice or the game, they should take time to rest and recharge before going back in. Any sort of muscle fatigue can cause the body and brain to slow down, which increases the risk for injuries. They can always play again next weekend if they don’t get injured today.

As the school year approaches, also know who you can turn to for emergency medical care. If you find yourself in need of emergency services, we have several Neighbors Emergency Center locations throughout Texas. Our board-certified physicians and state-of-the-art technology make it easy for us to care for your family’s medical emergencies and get your athlete back in the game.

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