ADOLESCENT MEDICINE :: Sports Safety
Sprains and Strains
The majority of sports injuries are caused by minor trauma involving muscles, ligaments, and/or tendons, including:
The most commonly sprained or strained joint is the ankle.
The three ligaments involved in ankles sprains/strains include the following:
Sprains or strains are uncommon in younger children because their growth plates (areas of bone growth located in the ends of long bones) are weaker than the muscles or tendons. Instead, children are prone to fractures.
What is a contusion?
A contusion (bruise) is an injury to the soft-tissue often produced by a blunt force such as a kick, fall, or blow. The immediate result will be pain, swelling, and discoloration.
What is a sprain?
A sprain is a wrenching or twisting injury to a ligament. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees, or wrists.
What is a strain?
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force, or stretching.
How is a sprain/strain diagnosed?
Your adolescent's physician makes the diagnosis with a physical examination. During the examination, the physician obtains a complete medical history of your adolescent and asks how the injury occurred.
Diagnostic procedures may also help evaluate the problem. Diagnostic procedures may include:
What are the symptoms of a sprain or strain?
The following are the most common symptoms of a sprain or strain. However, each adolescent may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a sprain or strain may resemble other conditions. Always consult your adolescent's physician for a diagnosis.
Treatment for sprains or strains:
Specific treatment for a sprain or strain will be determined by your adolescent's physician based on:
Initial treatment for a sprain or strain includes R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Other treatment options may include:
Be sure to consult your adolescent's physician if there is a prolonged, visible deformity of the affected area, or if severe pain prevents use of arm, leg, wrist, ankle, or knee.
Long-term outlook for an adolescent with a sprain or strain:
Contusions, sprains, or strains heal quite quickly in children and adolescents. It is important that your teen adhere to the activity restrictions and/or stretching and strengthening rehabilitation programs to prevent re-injury.
Most sports injuries are due to either traumatic injury or overuse of muscles or joints. Many sports injuries can be prevented with proper conditioning and training, wearing appropriate protective gear, and using proper equipment.
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It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
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