It’s fall! Which means it’s time to break out the cowbells and get ready to cheer for your kids out on the field. But as school sports ramp up, it’s important to also become aware of the risks associated with them. Did you know that football is considered the number one most dangerous sport in terms of common sports injuries for children? It’s followed in order by basketball, soccer, and baseball.
The top two diagnosed sports injuries are strains and sprains — 451,480 diagnosed annually, in fact. Next include broken bones, bruises, scrapes and concussions. The body parts most injured include the ankle, head, finger, knee and face. Sports injuries are common, and while some can be cared for at home, there are others that require the attention of a medical professional. Let’s take a closer look at the signs and symptoms the top six most common sports injuries.
A strain is an injury to either the muscles or tendons. They are not as serious as sprains, but can still hurt just as much. Strains are common for someone returning to a sport after the off-season and/or if they haven’t warmed up enough. They often occur in the feet, legs (typically the hamstrings) or in the back.
A sprain happens because of an injury to a ligament, one of the bands of tough, fibrous tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint and prevents excessive movement of the joint. An ankle sprain is the most common athletic injury, wrists and knees also sprain easily.
The recommended at-home treatment for a sprain is the same as for a strain: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If your child is experiencing pain and swelling and can’t move the affected area without assistance, get them to eMedical Urgent Care for a thorough exam.
Broken bones or bone fractures are common to contact or outdoor sports and can be classified into several types: the most common ones are the closed, open or compound, spiral, impacted, transverse and oblique fractures. Normally, minor broken bones can be dealt with in urgent care settings, such as those of the hand, wrist, ankle or feet. But compound fractures, where the bones are exposed and also involve wounds, warrant a trip to the emergency room.
A muscle or bone bruise due to a direct blow is common in contact sports. Consider giving pain control such as an ice pack and acetaminophen and watch your child for a few hours if there are no open wounds or swelling of the injured area. But if the pain prevents your child from doing normal activities, you’re not sure what’s the best approach, or the incident resulted in “goose egg” type-swelling, give us a call.
Minor scrapes, cuts, and road rash are common on the sports field and can often be taken care of at home. After washing your hands, clean the wound to prevent infection, stop the bleeding with gauze and apply a clean bandage and antibacterial ointment.
Our last, and most serious injury on the list is a concussion. A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that temporarily interferes with the way the brain functions. Because the brain “floats” in fluid in the skull, a blow to the head or jolt to the body, such as a car accident or collision between players on the sports field, can send it crashing into the hard bones of the skull, resulting in this injury. For boys, football is the leading cause of sports-related concussions and for girls, it’s soccer and basketball. Bicycling is responsible for the most non-sports related concussions.
According to a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, about one-third of pediatric patients with concussion experience symptom spikes over the consecutive days. The risk of symptom spike was increased with an abrupt increase in mental activity (i.e., returning to school and extracurricular activities) from one day to the next.
Symptoms of a concussion can include headache, light/sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, trouble concentrating and/or remembering things, trouble balancing or walking as well as difficulty sleeping. When in doubt, take your child to urgent care if they have sustained a head injury and symptoms are mild to moderate. If the child displays more intense symptoms such as loss of consciousness for longer than 30 seconds, don’t hesitate to go to the emergency room.
Preventing and Treating Injuries Common Sports Injuries
Injuries can happen to any active child who participates in sports, but a couple ways to help prevent injuries is to make sure your child has (and consistently uses) proper gear, engages in proper warm ups, follows safety rules and is prepared with a thorough preseason physical.
At night or on weekends, we‘re here. Patients are seen on a walk-in basis without appointment with convenient hours that are designed to fit your busy schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.