Here is a quick injury information check list for parents.
We all know that getting your children into sports has so many beneficial effects for their health. However, it is important to be aware that your children’s bodies are going through amazing changes and are growing at an alarming rate!
When your child is going through these changes the area that the muscle turns into a tendon and attaches to the bone is the most vulnerable area. This is because the bones are softer than usual at the growth site and so more susceptible to injury. Repetitive overuse of one muscle can result in an inflammatory reaction at the area that the muscle attaches to the bone which can be very painful.
The good news is these injuries are very easy to treat and most respond to rest and gradual return to activity.
I think we all agree that prevention is better than cure and it’s all about making sure you don’t overload with the volume of exercise they are doing. This can be difficult especially when children love sport and want to play everything all the time!
Things to remember:
- Make sure they have at least 2 rest days a week
- If they have one heavy day of sport make sure the next day is a fairly easy session
- Communicate with coaches if they have multiple commitments for example playing for school, clubs and county so that they are all aware of the loading, and can plan in some games/ sessions they can be rested.
It is a good idea to keep track of your child’s growth spurts, by measuring them on the wall, if you do notice them shooting up, its worth just pulling back slightly on the amount of sport they are doing that month so that their body gets plenty of rest.
Remember bones grow quicker than muscles so when they shoot up, the bones will have grown and the muscles are being stretched over a larger distance, causing more tightness and tension in the muscles. Lots of stretching and foam rolling at these times is crucial, or sports massage is another brilliant way to loosen up the muscles.
If they do get pain, do not sit on it, come in and get an assessment as there are lots of things that can be done to help get them back on track and prevent any future problems.
Below are some common injury areas and conditions that we see in clinic and what to do about them.
Severs disease is the most common cause of heel pain in children and adolescents, usually occurring between 8 and 14 years of age. It is thought to be an inflammatory reaction at the site of the attachment of the Achilles tendon of the heel, often because of sporting activities.
Heel pain (often both), which is often of gradual onset and worse on exercise, especially running or jumping. The pain is often relieved by rest.
Typical signs are:
- Tenderness on pressure of the heel
- Pain on bringing the foot toward the head
- Coming up onto tip toes
- Swelling of the heel
- The aims are to reduce inflammation to the heel to allow rest and recovery and prevent re-occurrence.
- Physiotherapy and exercises. These include a combination of stretching, strengthening exercises, ice, temporary heel lifts, soft orthotics or heel cups in shoes, correction of mechanical malalignment through orthotic use, and anti-inflammatory medications.
- In severe cases: temporarily limiting activity such as running and jumping.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Osgood-Schlatter disease is a common knee condition at the insertion of the quadriceps just below the knee in active teenagers. The strength of quadriceps may exceed the ability of the tibial tuberosity to resist that force, this can cause inflammation and enlargement.
The common age for boys is between 12 and 15 years and for girls, between 8 and 12 years.
- Gradual onset of pain and swelling below the knee.
- Pain is usually relieved by rest.
- Pain on running or jumping.
- It is more common in boys than in girls.
The good news is that most sufferers respond to conservative treatment. This is where physiotherapy can be helpful by stretching, strengthening, and reducing muscle imbalance of the quadriceps, hamstring and calf muscles. The physiotherapist can also advise about exercise, which should be tailored to the level of pain experienced by the sufferer.
A note about terminology Chondromalacia patellae can also be described as Patello Femoral joint pain or Anterior Knee Pain, these are terms used by healthcare professionals to describe pain at the front of the knee.
Chondromalacia patellae is pain from the cartilage at the back of the kneecap (patella). The usual treatment advised is to avoid overuse of the knee and to have physiotherapy, which is effective in most cases.
Chondromalacia patellae occurs most often in teenagers and is more common in women. Although the reason why damage occurs to the cartilage is not clear, it is thought that the kneecap (patella) may rub against the lower part of the thigh bone (femur) instead of gliding smoothly over it.
Situations where this is more likely include the following:
- Overuse of the knee, such as in certain sports.
- Some people may have a slight problem in the alignment of the knee. This may cause the patella to rub on, rather than glide over, the lower femur. It may be due to the way the knee has developed. Or, it may be due to an imbalance in the muscles around the knee.
- Injury to the knee may contribute – perhaps repeated small injuries or stresses due to sports, or due to slack ligaments (hypermobile joints).
What are the symptoms?
- Pain around the knee. The pain is usually located at the front of the knee, around or behind the kneecap (patella). The pain is typically worse when going up or down stairs. It may be brought on by sitting (with the knees bent) for long periods.
- A grating or grinding feeling or noise when the knee moves.
- Occasionally there is some fluid swelling of the knee joint.
Are any tests needed?
- Often, no tests are needed, as treatment can be started based on a working diagnosis following a thorough assessment.
What are the treatment options?
- Physiotherapy – improving the strength of the muscles around the knee will ease the stress on the knee. Also, specific exercises may help to correct problems with alignment and muscle balance around the knee. For example, you may be taught to do exercises which strengthen the inner side of the quadriceps muscle and the buttocks to place less strain through the knee.
- Modification of activities of the knee – until the pain eases. Symptoms usually improve in time if the knee is not overused.
- Painkillers – paracetamol or anti-inflammatory painkiller.