Injuries in Young Athletes

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Although they seem to be much more physically resilient than the rest of us; children and teenagers are also prone to injuries, especially if they are very active.

The musculoskeletal system undergoes massive change during adolescence rendering it quite different to the mature body.

As such certain injuries particularly fractures around the growth plates of bones can occur.

Where muscle tendons insert into the bone there is a soft cartilage plate which is much easier to pull away than in adults. The young athlete is more likely to suffer incomplete fractures because unlike adults the bone is more resilient and elastic.

During rapid growth spurts, “growing pains” are often caused by the muscles and tendons struggling to adapt to the rate of growth in the bone.  This can cause pain around big tendons including those in the heel, knee and hip.

On top of this, periods of rapid growth can cause children to lose some co-ordination and motor skills, typically recognised by parents as those “awkward years of sport”.

The resulting lack of coordination can lead to general aches and pains as the body fights to adapt to the longer limbs and what it takes to control them.

It is not unusual for kids to complain of pain but recover in a matter of days (or less!).

However, if any persisting limps, pains, or other issues present themselves it is important to have them assessed to establish cause and appropriate management.

While we often assume kids will “grow out of it”, there is also the risk that they will “grow in to it” and create a biomechanical abnormality that creates issues for them well in to adulthood, when it can be a lot more difficult to manage.

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