Teenagers not only rest hard but also play harder than other age group. Many teens play multiple sports, trying several different activities before finding the one they excel in. Additionally, teenage bodies are still growing. Muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints are not fully developed until their mid to late teen years. As a result, many teens will suffer from sports injuries at some point.
Sports Injuries in Teens
There are several types of injuries that commonly occur in young players such as sprains, strains, knee and shin injuries, fractures and dislocations.
The most common injury involves the knees, with more than 4 million knee injuries treated every year. If your teenage athlete complains of extreme pain, swelling and weakness or inability to move a joint or limb normally, bench them until they can be evaluated by a doctor.
While all athletes are at risk of developing these types of injuries, when it occurs in a teenager, special attention should be paid to the teen’s future. Many coaches espouse a “toughen up and walk it off” approach, which does a grave disservice to many young players by risking more serious injury to their players. That attitude leads to a delay in healing and turns an easy-to-treat injury into something more severe, possibly resulting in a player no longer being able to play.
Treatment of Sport Injuries
Most simple sports injuries in teens – outside of bone breaks or tears of connective tissue – can be treated using conservative methods such as RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Substantially reducing the amount of strain on the injured area is important. This may require crutches and a brace if the injury is on the leg or foot. Apply ice to the affected area 4-8 times a day for 20 minutes. Compression is used to reduce swelling and requires putting pressure on the affected region, like an ACE wrap or other orthopedic type device. Elevate the injured area by raising it above the heart to reduce swelling.
Injury Prevention and Returning to the Field
In order to return to a sport without doing further damage to an injury, teens should pay attention to certain injury-prevention methods. Wearing correct safety gear is a must. Sports gear should fit properly and be maintained. In some cases, extra protection may be needed for teen athletes such as using extra tape or wearing a special brace, modified shoes, or additional padding. Anything that protects the injured area of the body is a good idea.
Following a physical therapy program post-injury might mean your teen has to take extra time to warm up, or work out in a gym or with a rehabilitation therapist to strengthen the injured body part.
Teens to take it slow when it comes to resuming their activity of choice. For example, they shouldn’t return to game play without practicing first. This helps to ensure the return to the field or court is appropriate before picking back up where they left off.
Most importantly, teenagers should get to know their body’s limits. Pain is one way the body tells you something is wrong, so listen to it when it speaks to you.
If you or your teen has suffered a sports injury and needs special attention or a checkup to return to the field, court, or starting lineup, let the professional team at North Country Orthopaedic Group know. Call (315) 782-1650 or request an appointment online.