Preventing Sports Injuries in Adolescent Feet
Sports and physical activity are an important part of child development. They can provide valuable lessons on perseverance, teamwork, and sportsmanship, not to mention keep the body in fit shape!
But here’s the thing:
With physical activity also comes the possibility of experiencing painful sports injuries. Sometimes it’s an sudden accident, while other times pushing the body beyond its limits over an extended period of time is what causes these injuries. But one thing is always true – as a parent, the best things you can do are taking measures to prevent them from happening to your child and addressing painful symptoms as soon as they arise.
The good news is you don’t have to do it alone – because our team at Colorado Center for Podiatric Sports Medicine is in your corner!
Here you will find everything you need to know about pediatric sports injuries, so you can help your child stay active now and in the future.
Know the Threats
Sports injuries in children and teens tend to happen much the same way they do in adults. However, because children and teens are still growing and developing, they face a higher risk of being injured than adults. In fact, the act of growing itself can potentially cause problems, like Sever’s disease.
Some of the most common foot and ankle sports injuries we see in children include:
- Stress fractures. Unlike fractures that full split a bone into two or more pieces, stress fractures appear as cracks along the surface of a bone. These types of fractures are formed over time due to repetitive forces on the foot, such as running and jumping. When excessive pressure is placed on the bones over time, and regularly enough that the bone does not have proper time to recover, hairline cracks can begin to form on its surface.
- Sever’s disease. This is the most common source of heel pain in children and teens. It is an inflammation of the growth plate in the heel bone. Repetitive stress on this vulnerable area during a child’s development can result in swelling and pain.
- Ankle sprains. This is an injury to a ligament connecting bones in the joint. The ligament keeps the joint from moving too far, but can be overextended and even torn. Symptoms of an ankle sprain include pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, and trouble bearing weight on the ankle.
Of course, there are other types of pediatric sports injuries – some of which you may not have thought to be a “sports injury” in the first place, like ingrown toenails. Muscle stains and tendon injuries are also a possibility.
No matter what sports injury your child experiences, however, immediate treatment is important to prevent these conditions from becoming chronic in the future.
Know the Treatments
The treatment(s) we recommend for your child’s sports injury will greatly depend on the specific condition, its severity, and other factors, including your child’s age, activity levels, and sport(s) of choice. That said, rest will almost always be required to ensure a complete and safe healing process.
It is also important to determine an accurate diagnosis so we can recommend the best treatment plan for your child – as is following this plan to a T. Choosing to engage in activity too soon may, in some cases, cause an injury to not fully heal. Ankle sprains, for instance, may lead to chronic pain and weakness when not enough time is given for recovery. (It also makes future sprains much more likely.)
Treatment for foot and ankle sports injuries typically include the following:
- Reducing weight-bearing on the injured area.
- Avoiding or limiting certain activities for a while – though, in some cases, these can be replaced with low-impact activities like swimming or cycling.
- Taking OTC medications to help relieve pain and swelling.
- Performing RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).
Now, when these conservative treatments fail to provide the relief your child needs, or we determine from the beginning that the injury is too severe to respond to these measures, surgery may become a consideration.
You should keep in mind that this is rarely the case, and even if we do recommend surgery to address your child’s condition, you can find comfort in knowing that Dr. Yakel is well equipped with the best skills, knowledge, and tools available to deliver the best outcome possible. So you know your child is in good hands when they come to Colorado Center for Podiatric Sports Medicine for treatment – whether that involves surgery or not.
But even better than providing exceptional treatment options is helping your child prevent these painful setbacks in the first place. (Which takes us to our next point.)
Know How to Prevent Sports Injuries
Though it’s impossible to prevent all injuries, many injuries that result from repetitive impact and overuse can be avoided. Here’s how:
- Ensure your child is wearing the proper footwear for their specific sport. You should also make sure the shoes provide enough cushioning for the heels and support for the arches. Never buy shoes or cleats that are too small or too big.
- Remind your child to never push through pain and stop activity immediately if they suddenly experience it.
- Consider having your child wear orthotics. These versatile medical devices can provide the exact support and cushion their feet need. (We offer custom orthotics specifically geared toward athletes.)
- Teach your child how to properly trim their toenails, making sure to not round the corners, or cut them too short or leave them too long.
- Make sure your child performs stretching exercises and warms up before starting activities.
If your child complains of pain and discomfort in their lower limbs, do something about right away! The sooner you seek appropriate treatment, the easier it will be to provide the relief your child needs. What’s more, addressing problems at the earliest stages will help prevent them from becoming chronic and affecting your child’s feet in the future.
All you have to do is give our office a call at (720) 600-3380 to schedule an appointment today. You can also fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff reach out to you during regular business hours.