Typically, when we think about overuse injuries, we imagine office workers who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome or construction workers who sustain overuse injuries to the back or shoulder that result from lifting heavy objects. Yet it is not only adults who are at risk of overuse injuries. Children can sustain overuse injuries, particularly as a result of playing sports. According to a fact sheet from HealthyChildren.org, kids may in fact be at greater risk of sustaining overuse injuries than adults.
What should you know about preventing overuse injuries among children? What responsibilities do youth coaches have to help kids avoid these injuries?
Learning More About Overuse Injuries
A fact sheet from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine explains that, in general, there are two different forms of injury: acute and overuse. An acute injury results from “a single, traumatic event,” and often includes injuries in kids such as fractures sprains, strains, and dislocation. Overuse injuries, differently, happen over time and thus tend to be more difficult to diagnose, particularly among children.
As the fact sheet explains, overuse injuries are those in which a person sustain “damage to a bone, muscle, ligament, or tendon due to repetitive stress without allowing time for the body to heal.” As we mentioned, most Californians tend to associate overuse injuries with repetitive actions at work. Yet as HealthyChildren.org emphasizes, younger children and teenagers are actually “at increased risk for overuse injuries because growing bones are less resilient to stress.” In other words, adults’ bones may be able to compensate for some forms of overuse in ways that younger people’s bones simply cannot.
Given that overuse injuries occur over a longer period, there are typically different stages to an overuse injury. The injury normally begins with pain in a specific area immediately after a physical activity. Among children and teens, the physical activity is usually a sport, from swimming, to running, to gymnastics. At this point, the pain does not restrict the athlete’s ability to perform. At the next stage, pain still occurs only after physical activity, but it does restrict a teenager’s ability to engage in physical activity. Finally, kids will begin to experience pain that is chronic and persistent, even when they have not been involved in any kind of physical activity.
Recognizing and Preventing Overuse Injuries
While adults can recognize signs and symptoms of overuse injuries and seek proper medical attention for them, kids cannot necessarily do the same. Young athletes might not even realize that they are experiencing pain that is indicative of an overuse injury. For this reason, children and teens are less likely to receive medical attention and to take the proper steps to prevent further harm.
What can parents and coaches do to prevent (and ultimately treat) overuse injuries? The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine recommends some of the following:
- Reduce the intensity, frequency, and/or duration of a child’s sports activity;
- Teach proper training skills to youth athletes;
- Ensure that youth athletes warm up properly before engaging in exercise; and
- Provide ice for pains following physical activity.
In some cases, another party’s negligence might have resulted in your child’s overuse injury. If you have questions, an experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer can help. Contact the Walton Law Firm today to discuss your case.
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(image courtesy of axelvonsturm)