Ready, Set, Go: Sports Season & Adolescent Injury


The warming days of spring are right around the corner, which means parents and kids are gearing up for sports season. Whether it’s organized school or community sports or just playtime in the front yard with friends, kids are exceedingly active—and far more prone to injury—when weather gives them the freedom to be outdoors.

That means parents need to be ready for the risks of sports and outdoors activities.

This month, Dr. John McGarry, an orthopedic surgeon at Methodist Hospital for Surgery (MHfS), sheds some light on the precautions that could help prevent unnecessary injuries. In Dr. McGarry’s experience, the three most common sports injuries in children and adolescents are strains and sprains; overuse injuries such as stress fractures, apophysitis (inflammation of the bone) and periostitis (inflammation of soft tissue); and contusions.

Sprains and contusions are the most difficult kind of injury to avoid because they usually occur during play as a result of falls, collisions or missteps. On the other hand, overuse injuries can be readily avoided by gradually increasing intensity during practice or training, until the participant has re-attained the desired level of fitness; moving too fast from winter stillness to high-speed summer activity is what quickly leads to overuse injuries. Similarly, strains can be avoided by properly warming up with stretches and slow, simple exercises before high-intensity activity begins.

But injury can still be unavoidable. If your child sustains an overuse injury, Dr. McGarry recommends the following as treatment:

  • Ice
  • A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, such as ibuprofen)
  • Rest
  • Stretching
  • Slow return to sports

Treating strains, sprains and contusions depends on the severity of the injury, though initial treatment will mirror the above (ice, NSAID, rest, stretching). In worst case scenarios, fractures or muscle tears may require orthopedic surgery, in which case the concerns include risks of surgery, healing time and how quickly a child can return to normal activity or sports involvement.

While every parent hopes to survive the sports season with their kids injury-free, medical intervention is almost always necessary for someone. In Dr. McGarry’s opinion, MHfS is exemplary in the field of child and adolescent orthopedic surgery thanks to fellowship-trained sports medicine surgeons who routinely care for adolescent athletes. For specific questions about adolescent orthopedic surgery, call Methodist Hospital for Surgery at 469-248-3900.

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