The growth and popularity of pediatric sports has led to an unintended consequence - overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are caused by repetitive microtrauma to a muscle, bone, ligament or tendon without adequate time to heal or overcome the injury. Overuse injuries now make up approximately half of all pediatric sports injuries.
Growth Spurts: Growth spurts make children more susceptible to injuries because muscles, tendons and bones are growing rapidly, but all growing at different rates. This imbalance can cause muscle and tendon tightness, which can reduce flexibility.
An “Unprepared” Body: Growth plates are weaker and more susceptible to injury than fully-developed bones. Overuse injury to bone is more frequent in the juvenile population because while ligaments and tendons may be strong, bones with active growth plates may be relatively weak in comparison to adult bones.
Sports Injuries: Children involved in high-level or year-round sports are at risk for burnout if not given time for rest and repair. Single-sport concentration at an early age has also contributed to an increase in pediatric overuse injuries. As children rapidly grow and develop, those involved in sports can sometimes lack the coordination to develop a proper kinetic chain. This results in increased stress placed on specific body parts. Additionally, poor equipment and inadequate playing surfaces can also place a child at higher risk of developing injuries.
Repetitive Ankle Sprains: Ankle ligament sprains are the most common injury in sports medicine. In some pediatric ankle sprains, small separations of bone fragment or cartilage may be involved. Early intervention physical therapy coupled with proprioceptive reeducation to reduce swelling and guide ligament healing has proven to result in timely return to sports and activity.
Knee Pain: Osgood-Schlatter disease is one of the most common knee injuries affecting adolescents and pediatric athletes. It’s caused when the patellar tendon that connects the thigh muscles to the knee and shin becomes injured and inflamed. The bones in children are typically growing faster than the surrounding muscles and tendons, which cause the tendons to become tight. Ice and rest after activity can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Physical therapy can help strengthen and increase range of motion in leg muscles. Manual therapy of the kneecap or surrounding tendons can improve strength, motion and flexibility.
Heel Pain: Sever’s Disease is a common heel injury resulting in pain where the Achilles tendon attaches to the bone. Activities that require running and jumping can lead to inflammation in the heel at the growth plate. Physical therapy will help improve the strength in the foot. Heel stretches are a great exercise to improve strength and mobility. Orthotics, taping and other braces may be recommended.
If your child is suffering from these or any other injuries, the experts at Crafted Physical Therapy are here to help get them on the road to recovery. Whether it’s developing modifications to daily activities, fitting or recommending orthotics or providing a rehabilitative therapy course we are here to help. Give us a call at (720) 204-4567 or visit us online to schedule an appointment today.