Sports Injuries Are Preventable in Kids

This recent news item discusses the issue of sports injuries in young people, and outlines some of the “low impact” ways that parents, coaches and kids can help prevent them. It includes some common favorites such as hydration and stretching, as well as a conversation about learning good technique early, before bad habits can take hold.

But perhaps the most valuable thing young people can do to avoid lasting sports injuries is simply to stop: Stop playing that sport, stop performing that repetitive action – just stop, and let the body heal without the stresses of constant vigorous activity:

Resting is also important. Health experts say overuse is a common cause of injury that can have long-term effects as the athlete gets older. “We hear a lot about little league shoulder and little league arm, even tennis elbow, and those kinds of things are overuse injuries. A lot of times those growth plates get disturbed and you’re still as a child growing and you’re injuring those limbs,” said Tesoro.

My pediatric orthopedic practice sees kids of every age with these injuries, and we tell parents that rest is by far the most important prescription. As injuries become more chronic and severe, other interventions such as steroids and surgery may become necessary, but in the vast majority of cases, you can avoid these aggressive measures altogether by avoiding overuse, and just being a kid for a little while.

Trust me, they won’t mind.

How to Help Kids Get Through Surgery

As a pediatric orthopedist here in San Diego, I spend a fair amount of time diagnosing and treating kids. One of the most common concerns I hear from parents is whether their children will be able to get through a surgical procedure without undue anxiety or trauma.

The answer to that concern has gotten increasingly easy over the years, as developing technologies have placed an expanding catalog of distractions into the hands of patients. Video screens, touch screens, and all manner of interactive apps are helping kids get their minds off their medical procedures these days, and into a more contented flow.

As this article outlines, the result is a growing number of fear-free operations, including some unorthodox bonding in the O.R.:

Rodriguez switches the movie from “Ninjago” over to one he’s designed and edited himself. It’s a compilation of clips from NASA, Buzz Lightyear and Minions, which together create a full blastoff experience. The idea is for the child to feel like they’re taking a trip to the moon instead of going under for surgery.

“Let’s get our space monitors! We’ve got our space masks right now,” said Rodriguez excitedly as he placed the anesthesia mask over Matthew’s face. “All right let’s get ready for our countdown!”

My San Diego pediatric orthopedic practice offers kids a variety of ways to enjoy their time with us, and emerge emotionally unscathed. Add to this our sterling commitment to the very best medical care for childhood injuries and diseases, and it’s no wonder so many parents trust us with their kids.

A Pediatric Orthopedist Lists the Most Common Sports Injuries in Kids

Kids who play sports subject their bodies to a number of bangs and stresses which were usually designed for adult athletes to endure. This gap, between the biomechanics of sports and the bodies that perform them, can lead to musculoskeletal injuries in young people that are far less common in adults.

Below I have listed some of the major categories of sports injuries to watch out for.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Repetitive motion is just what it sounds like: something you do over and over in roughly the same way. Many sports require repetitive motions such as pitching, swinging a tennis racket, or kicking a ball, and the stresses introduced by these motions can accumulate over time, leading to bone spurs, strained muscles, and damaged cartilage.

Injuries to the Growth Plate

The primary difference between a child’s bones and an adult’s bones is that the child’s bones are still growing. Breaks and sprains are painful but rarely permanent, but injuries to the growth plates which regulate the lengthening of your child’s bones can be serious. Long bones which are still extending can be stopped in their tracks, requiring an intervention from a pediatric orthopedic surgeon.

Heat and Exhaustion

Many young athletes push themselves beyond what is appropriate or tolerable, especially as the weight of competition begins to make itself known. Frequent rest, hydration and cooling periods are essential, especially if your kid is engaged in a sport with full-body equipment or summer hours.

What causes all these injuries? Focused activity and poor training, mostly, but this list offers a good rubric for parents and coaches who want to eliminate all of the other potential risks first:

  • Sport specialization at a young age
  • Imbalance of strength or joint range of motion
  • Anatomic malalignment
  • Improper footwear
  • Pre-existing condition
  • Growth cartilage less resistant to repetitive microtrauma
  • Intense, repetitive training during periods of growth

For the best pediatric orthopedist in San Diego, just reach out to AOSM anytime.

Avoiding Orthopedic Injuries in Young Athletes

As a specialist in pediatric orthopedic care, I field a lot of questions about how to treat and prevent sports injuries in young athletes.

It is an evergreen topic, especially as our nation’s athletic organizations seem to push ever younger in their search for greatness and marketability. The pressure faced by youth athletes in basketball, baseball, and tennis, just to name a few, is considerably greater than it was just a few years ago before the sports media began focusing so closely on its farm system.

If you have a child who practices all day and excels at competition, you are likely looking for ways to protect his or her body as it grows and matures – and to prevent the kind of injury which could derail the whole effort before it really gets underway. One easy way to keep your kids safe: watch out for signs of overuse:

An overuse injury is an injury to a bone or muscle that develops over time as the tissue undergoes repetitive stress and is not given enough time to heal and recover. Growing tissue in children and adolescents makes them susceptible to overuse injuries, and they can develop specific injuries not seen in adults with fully mature bodies. In fact, about half of all sports injuries in young athletes are from overuse.

These subtle injuries can quickly graduate to full-blown crises, which is why it is essential to rest and restore often. Young athletes need a few months off each year from a given sport, and their repetitive activities such be delimited as much as possible to encourage variation and stretching.

To begin a consultation with an expert in sports medicine for kids here in San Diego, contact AOSM today.

The Stages of Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder is among the more sinister maladies of orthopedic medicine: a slow-moving intruder that can catch many patients off-guard as its symptoms gradually grow more severe.

But it’s important to know that frozen shoulder isn’t a life sentence; most cases tend to “thaw” over time on their own, following a well-known, if agonizingly slow, timetable.

Harvard Health recently outlined the entire cycle for curious patients, describing what happens around a year after the initial onset as the shoulder begins to regain some mobility:

Stiffness goes away as the shoulder begins to heal. This is when you begin stretching exercises and formal therapy to help restore flexibility and range of motion. Typically, a therapist teaches you the exercises, which you then do at home for several weeks or months.

The keys are rest and gentle therapy, as well as a good consultation with an expert orthopedic surgeon to see if you can uncover any distal causes of the disorder. The other key: pain management, through a combination of medicine and exercise, as suits your needs.

For the best treatment of frozen shoulder in San Diego, call or email AOSM here today.

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) As An Alternative to Shoulder Surgery

We orthopedic surgeons have made great strides in recent decades in our quest to reduce the recovery time associated with shoulder surgery. Earlier procedures were considered highly invasive, while today’s arthroscopic tools and therapeutic measures have made the recovery process for easier for everyone involved.

But what if you could forgo surgery altogether, and simply accelerate your body’s natural healing mechanisms? This is the goal behind platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, a procedure which involves injecting concentrated blood cells at the site of an injury to promote faster healing:

The procedure involves collecting several ounces of blood from a patient’s arm, spinning the blood in a centrifuge to concentrate the platelets and injecting the concentrated platelets into the injury site to stimulate healing. Platelets, the blood cells that promote clotting, contain hundreds of proteins, called growth factors, that are important in repairing injuries.

PRP has been used to some good effect in shoulder injuries, knee injuries, and assorted orthopedic twists and tears. The jury is still out on whether it works for everyone all the time, but plenty of anecdotal accounts such as this one suggest many patients are pleased with the results.

The American Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center here in San Diego offers the latest and most effective treatments for shoulder pain, knee pain, and a variety of orthopedic complaints. Call us today to learn more.