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Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries in Youth Sports

Sports are a great way for kids to become social, learn how to play as a team member, and stay fit but injuries can occur. With a little bit of knowledge about how to prevent them, you can save your children from having to go through what is often an excruciating experience. The first step in preventing sports injuries in children is knowing when they are most likely to occur. Knowing that repetitive stress injuries are more prevalent during preseason conditioning and practices than games or matches will help you be prepared for any pain that may come up as a result of training too hard. More American children are competing in sports than ever before. In fact, studies show roughly 45 million children are playing an organized sport. With this, the number of injuries has also risen.

What Causes Repetitive Stress Injuries in Sports?

In some cases, sports can be a repetitive motion that causes injury. If the player is young they are at risk for RSIs or overuse injuries because of their growth plates which will fracture easier than other parts of their body due to being weaker and more susceptible during this time period when bone tissue expands from cartilage (more material) into calcium-based minerals as it matures.

Who is at risk?

Repetitive Stress Injuries, or RSI’s for short, can affect anyone. But they are more likely to happen if someone is not training properly and has an old injury that affects their muscles due to weakness.

Common RSIs that happen in young athletes include:

  • stress fractures

  • swimmer's shoulder

  • pitching elbow

  • runner's knee

  • jumper's knee

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • Sever's disease

  • Osgood-Schlatter disease

  • shin splints

What are the signs and symptoms of repetitive stress injuries?

The most common is pain, followed by swelling. You may also experience redness or stiffness in your joints, as well as weakening muscles around a joint that's affected with an injury from overuse.

How Are Repetitive Stress Injuries Treated?

Slowing down now can help your child get back to sports as soon as possible. Health care providers usually recommend some or all of the following for an RSI:

  • Rest: Your child may need to either cut down or completely stop activities until the RSI heals.

  • Change in training: If allowed to train, your child may need to do less intense training, train for shorter times, or train less often.

  • Cold: To help with swelling and irritation, apply an ice or a cold pack to the sore area every 1–2 hours, for 15 minutes at a time. (Put a thin towel over the skin to protect it from the cold.)

  • Medicine: Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, or store brand) can help with pain and swelling. Follow the directions that come with the medicine for how much to give and how often.

  • Physical therapy: PT helps keep muscles and joints strong and flexible.

  • Elastic bandage or splint: Wearing one of these can support the sore area and help ease swelling.

RSI's are very common in children, and can be prevented with the right precautions. It is important to keep an eye out for any symptoms of pain or discomfort, as they may lead to long-term problems down the road. If you think your child might have an injury due to sports participation, take them to a doctor to have them evaluated as soon as possible. Associated Orthopedists of Detroit PC in St. Clair Shores and Shelby Township, Michigan, has a team of expert orthopedic surgeons who can help repair or replace a damaged joint that's causing you discomfort. To learn whether you're a good candidate for joint replacement surgery, call or use the online scheduling tool to book a consultation today.


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