Acute sporting injuries in adolescence usually occur during a training session or game due to falling, jumping, landing or catching incorrectly or contact with other players.
Other pains may come on slowly over time with no obvious incident or sporting injuries. They feel worse after games or training sessions and continue to cause problems for a longer period of time. This is usually due to overloading the body during periods of rapid growth and is managed differently to an acute injury. Common areas of the body for adolescents to injure or have pain with are: the ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, wrist and back.
So how can a physiotherapist help with these kinds of injuries?
Acute Injury Management
After an acute injury the best principle to follow is the RICER method:
R= Rest the area
I= Ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours (for the first 48 hours)
C= Compression around the area using an elastic bandage to help reduce swelling
E= Elevate the area as best you can, trying to have the affected area above your heart as often as possible. eg; for a rolled ankle try to rest it up on a chair as often as possible
R= Referral to see a GP or Physiotherapist.
Due to growth plates not yet being fused in this age group, severe sprains or other acute injuries should be assessed. This should be by a medical health professional as they may require an x-ray, further investigation or specialised rehabilitation. Avulsion fractures are a common sporting injury in adolescents aged 10-18 years as bones are still in their growth phase and more susceptible to fractures and breaks. Ligaments are usually stronger than bones during this time. Meaning that sprains can cause a fracture with or without serious soft tissue damage.
Acute sporting injuries that do not receive adequate rehabilitation can cause more problems throughout the season or lead to further injury. Your physiotherapist can tailor a rehabilitation program for you that will address areas of the body that require strength, stretching or proprioception work, which will help you return to sport sooner and decrease the risk of re-injury.
Growth Related Pain
Pain that worsens during and after sport or activity, or comes on slowly over time could be growth related. During a growth spurt the muscles are stretched tight as they try to keep up with the rapid growth of the bones. This can cause inflammation and irritation where the tendon of the muscle attaches to the bone. Growing pains are aggravated by an increase in activity levels during a growth spurt. Common sites of growing pains include: The heel bone (Severs disease), knee cap (Osgood Schlatter disease) and shins. Some other areas of the body may be affected.
Ice massage, taping/bracing, foam rolling and trigger point release can all help with pain relief. Also consider reducing your activity load to appropriate levels so as to manage your pain. Having regular check-ups with your physiotherapist is important. Especially when symptoms change or don’t improve over time, as persistent pain in adolescence is unusual.
Is your teenager or child suffering with unexplained pain or has had an incident at training or at a game? Contact us to book an assessment with a physiotherapist. Setting in place a plan of action enables peace of mind while they continue to grow and play sport.