Whether a year-round athlete or engaging in sports and activities that are more fun during the summer months, your child is apt to become sidelined if he is not properly trained or should succumb to injury. Here are five of the more common sports injuries your child might experience, especially during summer months.
Sprains and Strains
Sprains occur when a ligament, which is the tissue that connects the bones in a joint, becomes overstretched or torn. Strains occur when a muscle or tendon, which is the fibrous cords of tissue that connect bones to muscles, become overstretched or torn. Sprains and sprains can happen throughout the musculoskeletal system, but are the most common in the ankle. Should your child experience a strain or sprain, helpful measures include P.R.I.C.E.
- Protect the area if it hurts; if it’s the ankle avoid bearing weight on it, use crutches, or,
- Rest the area, do not try to tape it up or return to play.
- Ice the area to reduce swelling.
- Compress the area by using an athletic wrap like an ACE bandage or compression boot, just make sure it’s not too tight to restrict blood flow.
- Elevate the area any chance your child gets; have your child sleep with the ankle gently propped up on a pillow, slightly above the heart level.
Tennis elbow – lateral epicondylitis – is a common injury for children who play racquet sports or sports like lacrosse or field hockey. Tennis elbow occurs when the muscles and tendons around the elbow start to wear down or tear. Because it is considered a “wear and tear” injury, tennis elbow doesn’t happen dramatically or all at once, but rather, over time due to the consistent, repetitive force of constant exertion, mechanical compressions, vibrations and awkward or forced positions used throughout play. Tennis elbow presents as a burning pain on the outside of the elbow, a strap can help, but the best way to treat it is P.R.I.C.E., as well as consulting with a coach or technique expert to ensure your child is not straining or playing incorrectly.
Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons located in and around the shoulder joint that forms a cuff-like enclosure where the humerus bone meets the shoulder blade. When these tendons and muscles that are responsible for supporting the shoulder become irritated and inflamed, swelling and stiffness can occur, as can loss of strength and a decrease in range of motion. Children who have tendonitis in their rotator cuff – often from swimming, rowing or throwing – complain of pain radiating form the outer arm to the front and top of the shoulder when the arm is lifted or force is used. Injuries to your child’s rotator cuff can range from slight inflammation to tears. For milder cases, rest, anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy are all helpful. Should the injury develop into a tear, surgery may be the best treatment option.
One of the most common summer sports injuries affects the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which ensures your knee has full range of motion while also providing stability. Tears of the ACL most often occur in sports or activities that require your child to pivot or rotate the knee, but instead of the foot moving with the knee, the foot stays stationary. ACL tears can be debilitating and are common in basketball, tennis, volleyball and baseball. Treatment depends on the extent of the injury, your child’s overall condition, and whether your child has had issues with his ACL in the past. For more minor ACL injuries, apply ice and use anti-inflammatory medications, per doctor’s orders. Physical therapy is also recommended to regain strength and flexibility. More advanced or extreme cases may require surgical repair.
Extremely common in summer, when children tend to go barefoot or spend more time outside pounding the pavement, stress fractures – tiny cracks in the bone that are the result of continued pounding on hard surfaces, unsupportive or worn-down shoes, or carrying too much weight – can occur in any bone, however, when they happen in the foot and ankle, it can make walking, running, and even standing unbearable. Left untreated, stress fractures can become more pronounced and difficult to treat. The best way to treat them is to ensure your child’s shoes are appropriate for the activity, with plenty of padding. Should your child start to develop stress fractures, the P.R.I.C.E treatment method can be effective.
Summer Injuries with Year-round Care
At Children’s Healthcare, we provide compassionate, comprehensive care that is centered around your child’s physical, mental, and emotional needs. Children’s Healthcare is made up of a diverse group of medical providers who work together and with you to treat the whole child, not just the symptoms. Our medical staff includes board-certified pediatricians, nurse practitioners, nurses, a pediatric nutritionist, and a special needs expert so you can receive many perspectives and options for care. When it comes to your children, you want to ensure they’re being cared for by the best. With offices in Newburyport and Haverhill, Children’s Health Care is ready to serve you. To make an appointment or to speak with our on-call nurse, call us today (978) 465-7121. Be sure to ask about after-hours urgent medical care.