Knee injuries among young people are on the rise. In 2012, there was a 400% increase in the incidence of these injuries among teens, and those numbers appear to still be on the rise. Some of this increase can be attributed to the growing number of children and teens participating in sports, especially among girls (who are more vulnerable to ACL tears–a common knee injury). Read on to learn more about preventing treating these injuries.
Playing soccer barefoot on a wet tennis court is definitely not a great way to minimize risk of injury.
Prevention is key. Some knee injuries have lifelong consequences; for instance, an ACL tear boosts the likelihood that a young person will develop arthritis in the afflicted joint. At the very least, these injuries often force students to miss school and miss out on other athletic activities. That’s why it’s especially important to take a “better safe than sorry” approach to upholding and enforcing policies that aid in preventing sports injuries among young people.
- Create A Team Culture That Thinks Long Term: “Playing through the pain” probably won’t win the game, and it may very well lose you the season. Make sure suffering isn’t glorified on teams for teens and kids, and that the long term growth and success of the players are valued. It’s easier for young people to honestly assess and articulate their injuries when they know they won’t be doubted or looked down on, and even easier when they know that attentiveness and commitment to staying strong is something their coaches and teammates appreciate.
- Cross Train: Cross training is a great way to develop strength and flexibility without overburdening one muscle or joint. If you’re a parent, encourage your child to try other sports or go to the gym; if you’re a coach, integrate cross training activities, like jogging or weight lifting, into practices or as part of an off-season program.
- Rest Up: Cross training may be important, but teens also need plenty of rest time between practices, games, and seasons. Make sure young people aren’t overbooked, and that they have adequate time to sleep a full eight hours, eat real meals, and finish schoolwork.
- Hydrate: Dehydration can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and confusion–all of which make kids more vulnerable to injurious trips and falls.
- Wear Quality Gear: Make sure you child has appropriate gear in quality condition. Shoes, knee guards, etc. can all be worn down or crushed over time, so make sure these items all still offer the protection they’re intended to.
Treatment for knee injuries varies based on the type and severity of the injury. Physical therapy is often used. Sometimes, physical therapy serves to correct movement or posture problems that caused or will worsen the injury. Other times it’s to help build strength, particularly in supporting muscles, in a way that won’t exacerbate the injury. Other times, physical therapy is part of rehabilitative care post surgery or other treatment.
Bracing is very non-invasive treatment option. Bracing can be very useful in supporting and/or immobilizing damaged areas. It’s a good option for kids, who may have a hard time resisting the urge to move the injured area.
Knee surgery is more rare, but may be necessary. It’s not ideal, but can be the most effective solution for certain injuries that can’t be treated with the less invasive options. With proper rehabilitative care, surgery can offer relief and a more mobile, active future for young athletes.
For more assistance diagnosing and treating knee injuries in young people, we encourage you to contact our specialists and request an appointment.