Participating in sports during childhood and adolescence is a wonderful experience that teaches children teamwork, perseverance and how to be physically fit. These valuable lessons often result in a lifelong love for sports that provides a path to learning new skills while making new friends. Although sports can offer your child an array of benefits, injuries are also a reality.
Because children are still growing, the bones and ligaments in the feet and ankles are malleable, making injuries during physical activities more prevalent. Whether injuries take place by accident, or by pushing too hard, it is important to address injuries immediately. This will help ensure your child’s feet and ankles are not at risk for lifelong damage.
Types of Sports Injuries During Adolescence
It is important to remember that as a parent or caregiver, allowing your child to participate in sports can have a genuine impact on their wellbeing. From staying in shape to learning how to work together, sports can help children develop lifelong skills. Children’s feet and ankles can be at higher risk for injury than adults, because their ligaments and tendons are not fully developed. There are different types of injuries children can experience while partaking in sports activities.
The following are some of the more common types of sports injuries children can experience:
Stress Fractures: Much like the name implies, stress fractures can develop during repetitive stress placed on the foot and ankle, such as running or drills. Stress fractures are cracks along the surface of the bone. This type of fracture differs from a full break, however left untreated it can lead to more serious injuries. The repetitiveness that children endure during sports activities puts the bones in their feet at risk of developing stress fractures.
Stress fractures are often developed over time. When too much pressure is placed on the bones in the feet and ankles, the stress endured does not allow much time for recovery. In this case, without proper care the bones will continue to deteriorate leaving behind stress fractures. Children who experience stress fractures will often suffer from mild pain and tenderness that can become worse over time. Proper rest can help with pain and swelling.
Sever’s Disease: If your child is experiencing pain in the heel, Sever’s disease is an injury that is often considered. This condition, also referred to as apophysitis, is caused when repetitive stress is placed on the feet. Inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone is possible, due to constant stress placed on the feet. The result is severe pain and swelling.
Ankle Sprains: A sprained ankle is one of the more common sports injuries children can suffer from. An ankle sprain is caused by an injury to the ligament that connects the bones to the joint. Ligaments keep the joints in the ankles from moving too far apart, however if they become over-extended, the ligament can be torn, resulting in a sprain. Ankle sprain symptoms often include painful side effects such as swelling, bruising, pain, stiffness and difficulty placing weight on the injured ankle.
Other types of injuries in adolescents can include planter fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, muscle strains, tendon injuries, and neuromas.
Treatment for Sports Injuries in Children
If your child experiences an injury from sports related activities, it is important to remember that proper care and rest is vital to their overall health and wellbeing. For kids’ sports foot injuries, treatment will depend greatly on the type of injury they experience. The severity, and other factors such as age will also determine the treatment options.
It is important to work closely with your care provider to help identify the injury to ensure the right treatment plan is instilled. Allowing your child to continue with sport activities with an injury can have a detrimental impact on their wellbeing. Engaging in sports too soon can place unnecessary stress on a fracture or sprain, leading to more serious injuries. Treatment typically includes working closely with your care professional to develop a care plan that is individualized based on specific needs. In most cases, your child will need to refrain from sports or activities that place added stress on the injury. In more severe cases, surgery may become an option if treatment is ineffective.
As a parent or caregiver, wanting the best for your child is always a priority. That is why it is vital to help identify sports injuries as soon as possible to ensure injuries do not become a lifelong issue. To help protect your child while they partake in sports, wearing the right footwear for his or her sport can help.
Another positive way to help your child stay healthy is to remind them that if they experience any pain, pushing through it can have a negative effect on their health. Stopping the activity and discussing the concern with your child’s coach can also provide a path to ensuring their health is a priority.
The professionals at Step by Step Professional Family Footcare want all our patients to know that walking it off is not always the best solution. We can help identify the problem and provide a treatment plan that is designed to get your child back to enjoying the sports they love.