With winter sports well and truly underway, it is important to understand the different types of injuries that your little athletes may incur.
Injuries related to sports participation fall into three categories:
Acute injuries: happen suddenly and are usually associated with some form of trauma. In younger children, acute injuries often include minor bruises, sprains, and strains. Teen athletes are more likely to sustain more severe injuries, including broken bones and torn ligaments.
Overuse injuries: are caused by repetitive actions that put too much stress on the bones and muscles. Although they can happen in adults too, they're more problematic in young athletes because they can affect bone growth.
Anterior Knee Pain (pain in the front of the knee under the kneecap)
Little League elbow (pain and tenderness in the elbow)
Swimmer’s shoulder (inflammation of the shoulder causing pain in the back of the shoulder)
Shin Splints (pain and discomfort on the front of the lower parts of the legs)
Spondylolysis (persistent lower back pain)
Reinjury: occurs when an athlete returns to the sport before a previous injury has sufficiently healed. Athletes are at a much greater risk for reinjury when they return to the game before recovering fully. Doing so places stress upon the injury and forces the body to compensate for the weakness, which can put the athlete at greater risk for injuring another body part.
Injuries sustained by young athletes are often trivialised. They are usually encouraged to "toughen up and play through the pain." However, this approach is not always in the best interest of the young athlete. If not treated appropriately these injuries can lead to both a delay in the injury healing and a delay in returning to their much-loved sport. In some instances, delaying treatment can turn an easily treatable injury into one that becomes difficult to treat, and in some cases, result in a serious permanent injury that precludes future sports participation.
What to do in the event of an injury?
For acute injuries, many paediatric sports medicine specialists usually take a "better safe than sorry" approach. If an injury appears to affect basic functioning in any way — for example, if your child can't bend a finger, is limping, or has had a change in consciousness — first aid should be given immediately. A doctor should then see your child. If the injury seems to be more serious, it's important to take your child to the nearest hospital emergency department.
For overuse injuries, if your child is complaining of pain, it's the body's way of saying there's a problem. It is best to limit activity until your child sees a doctor. Doctors usually can diagnose overuse injuries by taking a medical history, examining the child, and ordering X-rays, if needed. Often overuse injuries are characterized by swelling, and a doctor may prescribe rest, medicines to ease inflammation, and physical therapy.
In the event of any injury, it is imperative that the parent and child remain calm and seek medical attention as soon as possible. It is important to keep the injured limb stationary, as moving it can cause greater damage. It is also worth noting that the use of any medicine without medical advice should be avoided. It is only advisable to apply a cold compress in the affected area or to use ice pack on the injury. In the case of exposed fractures, it is recommended that the break be covered with a clean cloth or gauze and that medical assistance be sought immediately.
Tuggerah Medical Centre is open on Saturdays 9am-12 noon for your convenience. Our team is here to keep you and your family healthy and well and get your little athlete back on their feet.