Can ‘staying in the game’ be harmful to kids?

Can ‘staying in the game’ be harmful to kids?

Has your child ever been injured during a game? Has it been hard to explain that they need to take a break from sports?

Sport injuries can have long-term effects to kids if not treated properly.

“A child’s growing skeleton is very delicate,” Dr. Kristina Walick at Advocate’s Children Hospital says. “There are things in sports that can affect the growing skeleton and if not treated properly, can lead to arthritis and joint problems later in life.”

How do you know if this is something that our kid is going through? Dr. Walick says that the symptoms are continued pain in joints that does not seem to get better.  There may be a sense of painful clicking or popping in the joint.  The three most common areas are the knee, the elbow, and the ankle.

“Pain that is consistent and does not seem to get better or continues to get worse, definitely needs to get investigated,” Dr. Walick says. “If a condition called osteochondritis dessicans is not caught, it can cause damage to the bone and cartilage and sometimes require surgery.”

Damage to the growth plates in children can be detrimental as they are developing. This can be commonly seen in gymnasts, baseball players and any athletes that use their arms over and over. If neglected and not treated, this can cause the plate to shut down prematurely and a child can end up not experiencing full growth.

It can be tricky to decide when is the right time to pull your child out the game. But Dr. Walick advises that if there are certain signs, then it is time.

“If your child is limping or there is swelling around a joint, then they should not be playing,” she says.

Explaining to your child that they should sit out of a game can be one of the biggest challenges, and not an easy conversation to have. Dr. Walick finds that the most important thing is that parents emphasize the importance of rest. The goal is to get them better so that they can become better athletes in the future. Explain that in order to get there, they have to rest and heal now.

Now is the perfect time to schedule your child’s annual checkup. Find a primary care doctor in Illinois or Wisconsin.

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Alexa Mirchou