Cheering on our own kid’s or your neighbors’ kids is a favorite past-time regardless of the time of year. The start of the school year means fall sports are about to begin. Take a few minutes to make sure you know how to identify and treat the most common sports injuries.
Ankle Strains and Sprains
Ankle sprains are extremely common among young athletes as they often come down too hard when they catch a ball, or simply twist their ankles while running. When this happens, the ankle ligaments either tear or stretch too much. Although the ligaments in our bodies are naturally stretchy and allow for some movement, too much movement will lead to a sprain.
Your child’s first indication of an injury is pain. Additional symptoms may include tenderness to the touch, 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. However, if your child’s ankle pain is extreme and they struggle to put weight on it, be sure to contact either their pediatrician or the staff at Neighbors Emergency Center.
Young athletes are vulnerable to shoulder injuries because their joints are naturally looser than those of adult athletes. These types of injuries need immediate attention as the shoulder will need to be put back in place by a medical professional.
Athletes who use their arms repetitively are in danger of developing rotator cuff tendonitis. Rotator cuff muscles are located deep within the shoulder, near the shoulder blade. 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. Please note that all young athletes that experience shoulder pain should have an x-ray done to make sure their growth plate is not injured.
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 around the shin. Shin splints can be caused by flat feet, shoes that don’t fit well or provide support, and exercising without stretching when warming up or cooling down.
Shin splints will often heal on their own with resting the body, icing the shin for 20-30 minutes every 4 hours for 2 to 3 days to ease any pain or swelling. You can also give them anti-inflammatory painkillers such as aspirin or ibuprofen.
Hamstring injuries occur when you put strain on your hamstring muscles located in the back of your thigh. Hamstring pulls are most common in sports that involve sprinting with sudden stops and starts such as soccer, basketball, football, and tennis. When this injury occurs, there is normally a sharp pain followed by a tearing sensation. Additional symptoms include discoloration around the back of the leg as well as muscles 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, there are a few things your child can do to make sure they take care of their bodies:
- Warm-up properly before playing any sport. Warm-up helps the muscles to be more flexible reducing the chance for injury.
- Know their limits. Muscle fatigue causes the body and brain to slow down which increases the risk for injury. Make sure they know when to rest.
- Play with the proper equipment including helmets and pads.
If your child does experience a sports injury, Neighbors Emergency Center is nearby staffed with board-certified physicians and state-of-the-art technology make it easy for us to care for your family’s medical emergencies. See your wait time for any location online now!