For many children, sports and physical activity plays a central part of their lives. This is the best age to inculcate the passion for physical activities in a child. Sports have both a physical and a mental benefit which is why they should be highly encouraged in the young.
Just like adults, children can also be injured during active sports. However, the nature of the injury is strikingly different because of the differing anatomy. In children, bones are still in their growing phase, and this makes them more resilient to injury.
The more elastic and resilient bone in a child accounts for the incomplete fractures or greenstick fractures seen in children rather than a complete, deforming one seen in adults. The bones in a child also have the ability to heal faster and remodel better. That is why recovery is faster and usually complete in a child.
Here are some common injuries children can have in active sports:
This is a pretty common complaint and is usually a result of repetitive stress on the foot muscles. Foot pain in a child usually does not require treatment and will heal on its own with activity modification and proper physiotherapy.
Heel pain in a child is usually due to a condition called the Severs Disease. The Achilles tendon is pulled and stretched, and this is because the bones grow at a faster rate than the ligaments and muscles attached to it during the growth spurt. Heel pain can be precipitated during active sports.
Activity modification and the appropriate dosage of anti-inflammatory medication is the primary treatment. The pain will usually resolve on its own within two months.
When the bones in the foot fail to separate in a child, it gives rise to a condition called tarsal coalition. Symptoms arise when the child engages in active sports such as running. Tarsal coalition is usually genetically predisposed and causes pain in the centre of the foot.
After confirming the diagnosis by X-ray studies, appropriate treatment can be started. This is usually just a combination of orthotics and activity modification.
Accessory Navicular Bone
In some people, there is an extra bone in the foot called the accessory navicular bone. This is found on the outer side of the big toe. Irritation of this bone in sports can cause pain and discomfort. Surgery is the preferred treatment of choice.
Although knee pain is more common in adults, children are also affected by it. There can be various causes of knee pain that can be aggravated by active sports. A complete history and physical examination are required to come up with a diagnosis.
Osgood Schlatter disease is one of the commonest causes of knee pain. Like Severs disease, this condition also arises in the growth spurt period of a child when the bones are rapidly growing. Activity modification is the mainstay of treatment.