Sports injuries in children and adolescents are on the rise as more kids participate in sports. It is not uncommon for your child to have at least one sports-related injury by the time he/she graduates from high school.
Sprains are injuries to ligaments, which connect bones in a joint. A sudden stretch of ligaments beyond their limits can deform or tear them. Strains are injuries to muscle fibers, or tendons, which anchor muscles to bones. Over-stretching or overusing a muscle causes tears in the tendons.
Every sporting activity should start with a gentle warm-up to help prevent common injuries. Warming up increases blood flow to the muscles and makes them more flexible; which might decrease some injuries. Proper equipment and protective gear, training, muscle strengthening and balance control all help prevent many sports-related injuries.
The most common injury in athletes is a sprained ankle. This typically occurs when the foot turns inward. The turning stretches or tears the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, which is relatively weak. With an ankle sprain, exercise therapy is necessary to retain flexibility and strength and avoid re-injury. Ask your doctor or physical therapist to teach you appropriate exercises for your condition. It is important to note where the sprain has occurred. A high ankle sprain is slower to heal and should probably be seen by a doctor to make sure the bones in the lower leg did not separate. One way to recognize a high ankle sprain is finding tenderness higher above the ankle.
Swelling is a normal response to injuries, although excessive swelling can reduce range of motion and interfere with healing. Usually, common sports injuries are mild or moderate — there may be some damage, but everything remains in the same place. You should expect that some common sports injuries may take months to heal, even with good treatment.