Sprains and Strains

Posted on Oct 12, 2015

Sprains in Young Athletes

For many families, back to school also means the return of school sports. The Johns Hopkins All Children's Sports Medicine program experts want to remind parents to be alert and watch for signs of a sports-related injury. Sports are a great way to stay healthy, but continuing to play through an injury can make the damage much worse and, if left untreated, can even contribute to health problems later in life.
Ankle sprains are one of the most common types of injuries, though young athletes are more likely than their adult counterparts to break a bone near the joint rather than sprain it. These injuries happen when the ankle rolls due to landing incorrectly on an uneven surface. This often occurs in basketball when a player jumps and lands on another player’s foot, and in field sports, such as football or soccer.

Know the Signs

Whether it is a sprain or a fracture, a doctor will be able to correctly diagnose the injury, develop a treatment plan and determine when your child will be able to return to play. Have your child evaluated if they are showing any of these signs:
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling of the joint
  • The joint looks deformed
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Pain that is affecting performance 

Rest and Recover

While no athlete likes to be out of the game, allowing plenty of time for rest and recovery will help your child return to play at full strength. Following through with the doctor or therapist’s instructions will ensure a smooth recovery and will make a repeated injury less likely. For a pain free return to activity, a recommended treatment plan may include:
  • Plenty of rest
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Physical therapy to regain previous level of function

Stay in the Game

The thought of an injury can be scary for many parents, but catching signs early and taking precautions can minimize damage. Keep your child in the game by remembering these tips:
  • It is not uncommon for players to experience some muscle soreness post-game, especially during a tournament. These aches may require ice and a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen. If your child needs a pain reliever before the game even starts, then it is time to see a doctor.
  • Going through the same motions season after season can place stress on frequently used areas of the body and increase the chance of injury. That’s why professional athletes often cross-train or play another sport during the off season. Encouraging your child to do the same will not only decrease the risk of injury, but can improve athletic ability overall and build maturity. 

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