Overuse injuries in youth sports


In this Contemporary Pediatrics interview, Matthew A. Halanski, MD, discusses how overuse injuries can lead to complications if proper rest and treatment doesn't take place at the time of injury.

Interview highlights

  • Overuse injuries in child athletes result from repetitive motions, causing pain near tendon insertions and growth plates, notably in areas like the heel and knee.
  • Rest, nonsteroidal medications, and ice help manage the pain, but immediate relief is often sought despite the necessity for sustained rest.
  • Neglecting proper treatment can lead to severe complications, emphasizing the importance of rest as the primary recovery step.
  • Little league elbow, worsened by factors like pitch counts, highlights the need for awareness and prevention in various body areas prone to overuse injuries.

Interview transcript (edited for clarity):

Contemporary Pediatrics®:

How can overuse injuries come into play for children involved in team sports?

Matthew Halanski, MD:

I think the children have pain, that's usually what their presenting symptom is. And when they are practicing day in and day out the same repetitive motions, whether that's throwing whether that's running, whether that's lifting a certain way, the the immature skeleton is not set up to accommodate that type of continued stress. Most commonly where we see that are areas where there are tendon insertions next to or adjacent to an apotheosis or growth plate and commonly see that at the heel and Sever's disease at the knee with Osgood Schlatters, where you tend to have repetitive motion and repetitive pull from a muscle across the thin wafer of bone where that tendon inserts, where right behind there, there is the region of growth cartilage that is a little bit weaker than the bone. So when you have this repetitive motion of constantly pulling, you tend to get micro trauma across that cartilage that results in pain. Nonsteroidals are very good at helping with that pain so is the typical ice and rest. None of those things are usually what the families or children want. They want it to go away. But we know it won't. Over time some of those injuries can become significant if appropriate steps aren't taken, which the most appropriate step is rest. Little league elbow is probably the one that's the most commonly known about that with pitch counts and different types of pitches that exacerbate it, but we see it in multiple areas around the body.

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