Overuse Injuries are caused by repetitive micro trauma to a bone, muscle, tendon or ligament without sufficient time to heal or undergo the normal repair process. There has been a significant increase in the incidence of overuse injuries in the adolescent and pediatric population paralleling the growth in youth participation in organized sports. Overuse Injuries now make up approximately 50% of the injuries seen in pediatric sports medicine.

What causes pediatric overuse injuries?

Growth

Growth spurts make kids vulnerable because their muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones are growing rapidly, and they are often growing at different rates. This imbalance causes tightness in muscles and tendons around joint insertions, resulting in a loss of flexibility that increases the risk of injury.

The unprepared system

A large component contributing to pediatric overuse injuries is the relatively “unprepared” system. Growth plates are weaker and more susceptible to injury than normal adult bone. Overuse injury and/or inflammation to bone is more frequent in a pediatric population because the ligamentous and tendon structures are relatively strong, whilst bones with active growth plates lack the strength of adult bone.

Sports specific factors

Kids involved in high level sports are susceptible to “burnout” if their bodies are not given chance to rest and rejuvenate. Year round training and increased concentration on one sport at an earlier age has contributed to the increase of pediatric overuse injuries. Due to periods of rapid growth pediatric athletes can sometimes lack the coordination required to develop an effective and strong kinetic chain. This means that for many high level techniques increased stress is placed on regional body parts. Poor equipment and inferior playing surfaces at a pediatric level can also be contributing factors.

The most common pediatric overuse conditions can benefit from physical therapy:

Knee Pain

Asgood Schlatter’s disease is probably the most frequent cause of knee pain in children. The condition occurs most commonly in children between the ages of 9 and 16 years but it can occur in younger children. Both boys and girls are equally vulnerable. Osgood-Schlatter disease is always characterized by activity-related pain that occurs a few inches below the knee-cap, or patella, on the front of the knee. The child will have swelling in the area, and tenderness to touch. Sports requiring lots of running, jumping, kneeling, and squatting are particularly associated with this condition.

Heel Pain

Sever’s Disease is the most frequent cause of heel pain in children. It is characterized by pain that occurs on the back of the heel, where the Achilles tendon attaches on the heel bone. Mild swelling may also be present. Activities such as running and jumping can put stress on the tight muscles and tendons which may lead to inflammation and heel pain at the growth plate. This condition occurs most commonly in active children between the ages of 8 and 14 years. Children older than 15 are more rarely affected because their bones have finished growing

Repetitive Ankle Sprains

Sprains of the ankle ligaments are the most common injury in sports medicine. Most involve the lateral ligament complex. In the pediatric population, these sprains often involve the avulsion of small fragments of bone or cartilage. Early physical therapy intervention and proprioceptive re-education to actively remove swelling and mold healing ligament has been demonstrated to result in optimal return-to-sport timeframes.


 

The Results PT Approach to Pediatric Injuries:

Click below to learn more about our approach to treating and preventing pediatric injuries inside our clinics:

+ Hands-On Therapy Approach

Recovery from overuse injuries is more challenging than recovery from a simple strain and sprain, due to the biomechanical nature of the problem. Treatment protocols must be progressed to include exercises that retrain the specific functional skills required for a successful return to sports. At Results Physiotherapy the patient always sees the therapist at every visit ensuring that progression is not protocol based and is optimized by constant professional reassessment.

+ Functional Training

Recovery from overuse injuries is more challenging than recovery from a simple strain and sprain, due to the biomechanical nature of the problem. Treatment protocols must be progressed to include exercises that retrain the specific functional skills required for a successful return to sports. At Results Physiotherapy the patient always sees the therapist at every visit ensuring that progression is not protocol based and is optimized by constant professional reassessment.

+ Pre-Participation Physicals

In compliance with state legislation Results provides pre-participation physicals for 7th-9th graders.

+ Athletic Screenings

Results Physiotherapy provides pre-season athletic screens for a number of sports specific activities such as baseball (including pitching), basketball, football, swimming. These screens identify biomechanical factors that might pre-dispose young athletes to injury and allow appropriate intervention to be coordinated with training and coaching staff.

+ Communication

Effective communication ensures that everyone is on the same page regarding the time frames for a safe return to normal activity. Clear updates on the recovery process and clear guidelines for the return to activity will be provided to all concerned.

+ Preseason Conditioning

Results Physiotherapy works with coaching and training staff to design sport-specific conditioning programs that compliment other training systems and assist in preventing injuries throughout the sporting

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