Spring season is the right time for young people to get outside and learn important life lessons through participation in youth sports like baseball, softball, soccer, and track & field events. But along with sports comes the inevitable increased risk of injuries. Here are the top orthopedic risks in youth sports to watch out for:
- Ankle Sprains: They are most often caused as a result of twisting injury that damages the ligaments within the ankle. Of note, a fracture of the growth plate in lower end of the shin bone can sometimes look very similar to an ankle sprain. This should be ruled out when evaluating ankle sprains.
- Knee Pain: Knee pain is very common in sports. In young athletes, it may be caused due to muscular imbalance that may occur during the growth and maturation of the skeletal system. Female athletes are particularly susceptible. Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that surround and support the knee will often significantly improve symptoms.
- Osgood-Schlatter Disease: This injury is caused due to traction of a growth plate on top of the shin bone. It usually occurs due to a very high activity level. Treatment involves rest, icing, and possibly using a knee brace for some time.
- Little League Elbow: This is a classic overuse injury that is caused due to excessive throwing which results in damage to the growth plate on the inside of the elbow. In most cases, rest, light stretching, and modification of throwing technique will help resolve the problem.
- Little League Shoulder: This is seen in adolescent pitchers between the ages of 11 to 14 years. Symptoms include swelling and pain in the shoulder that is exacerbated with lifting the arm overhead. The condition can usually be treated with rest, physical therapy, and a progressive program to build up throwing strength.
- ACL Tears: The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is an important stabilizing ligament in the knee. It may be torn due to a sudden twisting motion of the knee. Small tears may heal with conservative treatment, but for athletes who wish to return to play at the highest level of the game, surgical repair of the torn ligament may be necessary.
Injuries to bones and soft tissues generally heal faster in the young athletes, however, careful evaluation and follow-ups visits may be required to ensure normal growth and development of the musculoskeletal system is not adversely affected.
NewportCare Medical Group is a comprehensive specialty group located in Newport Beach, California specializing in advanced non-surgical and surgical treatments for a wide range of orthopedic conditions.