Keep Your Teen in the Game! Prevent These Common Sports Injuries

Does your teenager complain of joint pain or swelling? The fall season means kids are back on the field or the court. Repetitive movement injuries are common across many sports. Physical therapy can both help your child avoid injury and recover quicker if one does occur. 

Avoid injury with a pre-season screening

You don’t wait until an injury occurs! PTS offers free pre-season screenings to establish a baseline in preparation for the season. If an injury does occur, we can get your athlete back to the game faster with knowledge of their typical performance.

Physical therapists can identify opportunities to maintain strength and flexibility to help your teen perform their best all season long. Plus, they will identify areas of weakness that may be susceptible to injury. PTS can tailor an exercise program to prevent injury for your athlete.

Common injuries your teen could experience 

For growing teenagers, aches and pains are fairly common. However, it’s important to be aware of some more serious conditions that may require intervention. Your teenager might complain of or show the following symptoms: 

  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome: A common source of knee pain caused by the cartilage under the kneecap deteriorating.
    • Symptoms: Pain during exercises that involve regular bending of the knee, pain in the front of the knee after sitting for a long time, crackling sound at the knee joint. 
    • Mechanism of Injury: Overuse, kneecap misalignment. 
      • Associated Sports: Basketball, volleyball, track, or cross-country
    • Treatment: A medical doctor might recommend switching to low-impact activities until pain subsides. Often, orthotics and physical therapy are indicated to aid in recovery.
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease: A childhood repetitive use injury in which a painful lump forms under the kneecap. 
    • Symptoms: Pain and swelling around the knee.
    • Mechanism of Injury: Irritation of the bone growth plate through repeated high-stress movements, typically seen in children and teenagers.
      • Associated Sports: Soccer, basketball, gymnastics
    • Treatment: A medical doctor may recommend reducing activity, ice, patellar tendon strap or kneepads, and/or anti-inflammatory medication. Physical therapy can help identify children at risk for this injury.
  • Ankle Sprain: An injury involving stretching or tearing of the ligaments in the ankle.
    • Symptoms: Pain, soreness, bruising, trouble bearing weight.
    • Mechanism of Injury: Rolling, twisting, or awkwardly turning the ankle during physical activity.
      • Associated Sports: Soccer, football, tennis, volleyball, basketball
    • Treatment: After ruling out other diagnoses, a medical doctor might recommend bracing or splinting the ankle, rest, compression, and icing. A physical therapist can assist with healing through stretching and strengthening exercises.
  • Sever’s Disease: Inflammation of the growth plate in the back of the heel. 
    • Symptoms: Heel pain, swelling, limping, foot stiffness
    • Mechanism of Injury: Activities like running and jumping cause the tight Achilles tendon to pull and irritate the heel growth plate, commonly in children
      • Associated Sports: Soccer, gymnastics, basketball, tennis, baseball, and football 
    • Treatment: When identified by a medical doctor, time off from intense activities, physical therapy, and heel cups to cushion the heel are often utilized. 
  • Shin Splints:  An injury due to irritation and swelling of the muscles, tendons, and bones in the lower leg. 
    • Symptoms: Pain on the inner edge of the shinbone, also known as the tibia.
    • Mechanism of Injury: Often a result of running, high-impact activity, or sudden changes in an exercise routine or intensity.
      • Associated Sports: Basketball, football, soccer, dancing, cross country, track 
    • Treatment: A medical doctor may recommend decreasing or avoiding activities that cause pain, icing, pain medication such as ibuprofen, compression stockings, or footwear with arch support. A physical therapist can make recommendations for specific stretches and exercises to increase strength or suggest changes to movement patterns to improve running form. 

How can physical therapy help after an injury?

Physical therapists can work with your teenager to help manage pain, shorten recovery time, and get them back playing stronger than ever.  If your teen is experiencing any of these symptoms, a physical therapist can make customized recommendations for strengthening and stretching based on your athlete’s movement patterns. By strengthening and stretching the appropriate parts of the body, movement becomes safer and more comfortable. 

Physical therapists use many different types of screenings and techniques, including video analysis, to get a full picture of how your athlete moves which can aid in both injury prevention and recovery. 

How can physical therapy prevent an injury?

Injuries often occur as a result of constant use. Your teenager may truly love a sport and find it hard to sit on the sidelines, but overuse injuries can have serious consequences if left untreated. Common symptoms indicative of a future injury include aches, stiffness, and tingling/numbness. It’s usually better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention before continuing an activity and risking injury when experiencing pain. 

Let PTS help guide you! Talk with our expert sports injury and prevention therapists if you have any questions about how your teenager can avoid injury, or if they are complaining of aches or pains. Call 309-231-0676 or click here.

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