Young athletes who train too hard or concentrate on one sport are more likely to develop overuse injuries, some of which permanently affect bone growth. If your child develops an overuse syndrome, visit fellowship-trained pediatric orthopedic surgeon Roderick Capelo, MD, at Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates in Grapevine, Texas. Dr. Capelo and his team excel at assessing and treating overuse syndromes and getting children fit for the activities they enjoy. To benefit from their considerable expertise, call Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates today or book an appointment online.
Overuse syndromes are conditions where injuries develop gradually over time. They’re usually due to repeating an athletic activity so often that the tissues don’t have enough time to heal.
Overuse injuries in children can affect the muscles, ligaments, tendons, growth plates, and bones. These structures might undergo uneven growth. For instance, bones grow first, making them pull on muscles and tendons that haven’t caught up.
This irregular growth pattern means children are more likely to suffer muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries and develop overuse syndromes.
Overuse syndromes occur in many sports, from baseball and football to track and gymnastics. Some overuse injuries are more likely to occur in specific sports. For example, swimming is most likely to cause shoulder overuse injuries, while overhand pitching when playing baseball can cause elbow overuse injuries.
Some of the more common overuse syndromes include:
Sever’s disease (osteochondrosis or apophysitis) is a common cause of heel pain in children, particularly during adolescent growth spurts. It’s an inflammatory disorder affecting the growth plate in a child’s heel bone (calcaneus).
Repeated running and jumping lead to strain on the growth plate as your child’s foot meets the ground. This causes inflammation and swelling, resulting in heel pain.
Osgood-Schlatter disease affects the tibial tubercle growth plate in the knee, a bump at the top of the child’s tibia (shin bone) where the patellar tendon attaches to the bone. The child experiences pain at the front of their knee caused by inflammation in the growth plate.
Osgood-Schlatter disease typically develops when children do a lot of running and jumping, making the quadriceps muscles in their thigh pull the patellar tendon and tibial tubercle.
Sinding-Larsen-Johansson disease also affects the patellar tendon and kneecap growth plate. The cause is often repetitive stress on the tendon from frequent jumping.
Other overuse syndromes include throwing injuries in the elbow and stress fractures (tiny cracks in bones that build up over time).
Overuse syndromes are nearly always preventable. The main problem is children playing just one sport where they continually use the same muscles and joints. The tissues in specific areas suffer constant stress, leading to muscle imbalances.
Overtraining and not getting enough rest, combined with repeated musculoskeletal stress, significantly increases the risk of overuse injuries. Therefore, ensuring your child does a variety of activities and doesn’t overtrain can help prevent most overuse syndromes.
To find out more and get expert help with your child’s overuse syndrome, call Pediatric Sports and Spine Associates today or book an appointment online.