The enjoyment of watching your child on the field is amplified because you know they’re building social skills and physical health while doing something they love. To keep things fun for everyone, parents want to do whatever they can to keep their players healthy and strong.
Sticks and Stones
Minor scrapes, strains and bruises are expected, but as many as half of all children will experience a broken bone while engaging in sports. “Children’s bodies are still growing, so their muscles and bones are different from adults,” says William Felix, MD, CAQSM, a sports medicine physician in Lake Nona. “The good news is, their bones can heal faster. This means the break can often be covered with a cast to heal without surgery.”
Though you may assume a broken bone will be obvious to the eye, children’s bones are more flexible and rarely break cleanly. “Falling on the forearm and creating hairline fractures is not uncommon in active kids,” says Dr. Felix. “A child may still be able to move their arm and function pretty normally, but if they have continued pain that, for example, keeps them awake at night, take them in for an X-ray.”
Twist and Shout
The most common athletic injury children face are sprains or strains, which are not as serious but shouldn’t be ignored. “A twisted ankle may not seem like a big deal, but when it leads to long-term ankle instability, it can put young people off exercise,” says Dr. Felix. “Some treatments for youth athletes have shown promise in preventing ankle injury, such as a balance training program and lace-up ankle braces.”
Recovery from a sprain or strain is often summarized using the acronym PRICE:
- Protect the area
- Ice the Affected area
- Compress the area
Who Is at the Most Risk?
Boys tend to break bones more often than girls — more than 50 percent more often, according to one study. When it comes to knee injuries, female athletes face a much higher risk. “They are as much as eight times as likely as boys to tear a critical ligament that holds the knee in place, called the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL,” says Dr. Felix.
When an Injury Can’t Wait
Dr. Felix urges a “better safe than sorry” approach when you’re unsure about the severity of your child’s sports injury. “The difference between a torn muscle or ligament and a broken bone is not always clear. All three involve pain and difficulty moving a body part. If the injury is still painful after a few hours, head to urgent care,” he says. “If your child can’t move the joint or experiences severe pain or numbness, you should seek immediate medical attention.”
About Dr. Felix
William Felix, MD, CAQSM, provides non-surgical orthopedic care including evaluation and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries, platelet-rich plasma therapy, regenerative medicine and prolotherapy to patients of all ages and abilities. At Florida Hospital Health Park-Lake Nona, he regularly treats athletes, non-athletes and kids, including children with special needs. To learn more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Felix, call 407-930-7800 or visit FHMedicalGroup.com.