The bones and ligaments in children differ from those of an adult due not only to their immaturity but also because they’re still growing. However, since the growth plates of children are still “open,” they’re much more susceptible to injury than the tendons and ligaments that support the joints. Additionally, repetitive overuse can cause the growth plates to become inflamed – this is just one of the many reasons why physicians advise that children not specialize in any one particular sport. Many injuries that young ones sustain occur from the knees down – their feet and lower legs bearing the brunt of all their jumps,
Many injuries that young ones sustain occur from the knees down – their feet and lower legs bearing the brunt of all their jumps, runs and kicks.
Something that’s not an injury but IS something to keep an eye on is mild “torsional” imbalances – you might know this as “in-toeing” or “out-toeing” (aka, “pigeon toed” or “duck footed”). This is pretty common in the youth population, with the vast majority of kids grow out of these imbalances with no medical intervention whatsoever; however, they can increase the risk of injury and, therefore, should be monitored in regards to the susceptibility of foot and/or ankle injury.
Shin Splints – Shin splints are caused by tiny tears or inflammation of the muscles in the anterior portion of the leg, ie the shin(s). Shin splints can cause a surprising amount of pain that can sometimes bring very active kids to a virtual standstill. When it comes to shin splints, rest is a huge component in regards the healing of this type of injury.
Sever’s Disease – Sever’s Disease is an inflammation of the growth plate next to the heel bone and is usually felt as pain behind the heel, where tendons attach to bone. Rest and ice are the typical course of treatment for Sever’s Disease.
Sprains – in older kids, sprains (stretched or torn ligaments) of the ankle tend to be more common than fractures. Sprains can be quite painful and may cause an extensive amount of swelling around the joint – just like a fracture. Not treating a sprain appropriately as well as not providing appropriate support to the joint after healing can set up young ones for a lifetime of sprains down the road. Therefore…if you physician recommends bracing or taping, make sure you follow through.
Fractures of the growth plate – Fractures due to overuse are common in children, with growth plates being especially prone to injury. If a break is relatively straightforward, rest and immobilization tend to be the best treatment, while more complicated fractures may require surgical intervention.
Regardless of how careful one may be, sometimes injuries are simply unavoidable. Fortunately, we have a highly skilled foot and ankle surgeon here in our office ready to help our patients get back on their feet again!