Sprain vs. Strain: What’s the Difference?

As a parent of a sprightly 3- or 5-year-old, you’ve definitely had your share of scary moments whenever you see your child fall down after running around the field or goofing around with friends.

No parent ever wants to see their child doubled over in pain because of an injured knee. However, at this stage, knee injuries are commonplace for children who are physically active.

The knee is a very complex joint with lots of moving parts, which is why there are plenty of injuries that can happen. The most common causes of knee injuries are from repetitive action while playing sports, sudden stops or twists, and direct trauma to the knee.

It is therefore important to know the difference between a sprain and a strain so that you can treat your child’s injury correctly.

How to Tell One from the Other

A knee sprain involves the tearing of a ligament, while a knee strain involves the tearing of a muscle. In both instances, pain, swelling, limited flexibility, and difficulty doing a full range of motion may be experienced. As you can see, both conditions display similar signs, which is why most people mistake one for the other.

The main difference between the two is that sprain causes bruising in the knee. It is caused by a direct hit to the joint, and your child will feel a popping or snapping sound when it happens. On the other hand, a strain causes cramping, muscle spasms, and muscle weakness.

Overexertion, accidents, awkward positions while sitting or standing, and prolonged repetitive motion are often the main reasons why sprains and strains happen.

If your child’s knee injury is severe that he or she cannot walk, or if there are still prevailing issues with the knee two weeks after the accident, you may need to visit a San Diego pediatric orthopedist to have your child’s knee treated professionally.

Treating Shoulder Bursitis

Is your child always complaining of tenderness or pain in the shoulder? He or she may be suffering from shoulder bursitis.

What is Bursitis?

The bursa is a sac filled with lubricating fluid that acts as a gliding surface for the tendons. It helps decrease the friction whenever the tendons rub off against other body parts such as bones, ligaments, and skin.

Currently, there are 160 bursae found all over the body, with the major ones located on the shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.

Bursitis occurs whenever the bursa becomes swollen or gets irritated from increased pressure. Once the bursa gets inflamed, the tendon does not glide smoothly over it, making any form of movement painful.

Causes of Bursitis

Shoulder bursitis have many causes, the most common of which is repetitive motion. Athletes are prone to develop shoulder bursitis whenever they perform a repetitive action, such as throwing, pitching, or swimming. This medical condition can happen gradually or suddenly.

Other causes of shoulder bursitis are direct trauma to the shoulder, incorrect posture, calcium deposits, bone overgrowth, infection, or autoimmune diseases.

Symptoms of Bursitis

The hallmark symptom of bursitis is localized swelling. A visible bump on the shoulder will appear. Pain can be felt either on the outer side or tip of the shoulder whenever there is movement, such as lying on the affected shoulder, rotating the arm, or simply pushing or pulling open a door.

Treatment of Bursitis

Home remedies such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication and cold compress can be used to treat bursitis. It is also important for the child to take a complete rest, and to avoid doing the motion that originally caused the shoulder pain.

When to See a Doctor

If the pain continues to persist in the next couple of weeks, your child may need to see a San Diego pediatric orthopedist to achieve complete recovery and to regain his or her complete range of motion.

What to Do If Your Child is Afraid to Go to the Doctor

Injuries can and will happen, especially if your child spends a lot of time in the playground or plays competitive sports. A routine visit already raises a lot of anxieties among children, but more so if the visit is due to an excruciating pain caused by an injury. Thoughts of needles, x-rays, and lab tests can terrorize even the bravest of preschoolers and toddlers. They may cry or throw tantrums, making the visit even more traumatic for them.

As a parent or guardian, here’s how you can turn a doctor’s visit into a more pleasurable experience for your child.

Do a role play.

Before going to a Los Angeles orthodontist or pediatrician, you can buy a toy doctor kit and do a pretend checkup role play so that your child will learn what a doctor’s role is, and know what to expect from a doctor’s visit.

Make physical contact.

The doctor’s clinic is a strange and unfamiliar environment to the child. Consider having him or her sit on your lap to provide comfort and reassurance.

Kids can also sense what their parents feel at the moment. If you feel at ease, your child will pick up on it and will feel a lot better about the visit.

Give something to look forward to.

You can promise to give a reward or an incentive, like a movie date or more playground time, after the visit. Don’t use the treat as a condition of good behavior at the doctor—this will only make the kid feel bad if he or she will not be able to control the anxiety.

Be honest.

If there is going to be blood work and the child is going to get a shot, don’t lie and say that it won’t hurt. Be honest and say matter-of-factly that it is going to hurt—but don’t dwell on it. If you act like it is no big deal, your child will act like that as well.

Provide positive feedback.

Positive verbal reinforcement can make a huge difference. Words such as “You were very brave” will give confidence to the child so that he or she will be less anxious on future clinic visits.

Don’t want your child to make a scene while in a doctor’s waiting room? Doing any of these things will prevent your child from dreading a visit to the doctor.

Dealing with Little League Elbow Syndrome

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of organized sports for children, resulting to an increase in sports-related pediatric injuries. Other factors that contribute to the increased number of injuries include single-sport specialization and longer competitive seasons.

One of these injuries is called Little League elbow syndrome, a type of medial elbow injury caused by repetitive throwing motions when playing baseball. This injury is also associated with other sports that involve plenty of throwing.

When making a throwing motion, a lot of stress is placed on the elbow’s growth plate located on the inside of the elbow. This repeated motion results in an overuse injury that frequently happens to little pitchers, catchers, infielders, and outfielders. The medical term for Little League elbow is medial epicondylar apophysis.

Why Children and Adolescents Get Little League Elbow

The growth plates in the elbows of children and adolescents who frequently play the sport have not yet reached full skeletal maturity. Excessive and repeated stress on the growth plates will cause them to crack or tear from the humerus bone. This can negatively impact bone growth, and even cause deformity in the elbow.

Watch Out for the Symptoms

Little League elbow typically happens to an adolescent baseball pitcher aged 9 to 14. Injured baseball players often complain of pains on the insides of their elbow. They also complain of being unable to move their elbow because it feels like it gets stuck or is locked.

A San Diego pediatric orthodontist will be able to diagnose if your kid has Little League elbow or not. Aside from a physical exam, an x-ray or an MRI scan can be conducted to determine the extent of the injury.

To prevent the occurrence of this elbow injury, the USA Baseball Medical and Safety Advisory Committee recommends that pitch count limits should be strictly monitored and regulated, and that pitchers should play no more than nine months to give the body enough time to heal and recover.