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 or 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.
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.
A sprain is a wrenching or twisting injury or tear to a ligament. Sprains often affect the ankles, knees or wrists.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon, and is often caused by overuse, force or stretching.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness, children and adolescents who regularly participate in sports activities may develop microtraumatic damage to a muscle, bone, or tendon that is repeatedly stressed and does not have time to heal naturally. This cumulative damage is known as an overuse injury. The injury is called microtrauma because it may not appear on X-ray, but it can affect the overall health and development of the child or adolescent. Overuse injuries are classified in four stages:
The American Academy of Pediatrics includes the following in its recommendations to prevent overuse injuries in young athletes:
Your adolescent's doctor makes the diagnosis with a physical examination. During the examination, the doctor 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:
Specific treatment for a sprain or strain will be determined by your adolescent's doctor 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 doctor if there is a prolonged, visible deformity of the affected area, or if severe pain prevents use of arm, leg, wrist, ankle or knee.
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 reinjury.
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.
From sprains and strains to complex congenital conditions, Children’s National Hospital offers one of the most experienced pediatric orthopaedic practices in the nation with experience in treating all areas from head to toe.
Invest in future cures for some of life's most devastating diseases
Share your birthday with a child. Celebrate your life, and give a chance to someone who desperately wants to have as many as you.
View our medical library to learn in-depth information about pediatric conditions and treatments.
When a child has cancer, one of his or her greatest fears, and the fear of parents, is pain. Pain is a sensation of discomfort, distress or agony. Because pain is unique to each individual, a child's pain cannot be measured with a lab test or imaging study. Learn more about how we manage a child's pain at Children's National.
A mild traumatic brain injury or concussion is a disruption in the function of the brain as a result of a forceful blow to the head, either direct or indirect. Learn more about this condition.