Knee Injuries in Sports
Knee Injuries in Sports. Almost every child plays sports at some point in their life. Sports are a way for children to stay in shape, learn about commitment, and gain time management skills. Unfortunately, injuries are also a reality in sports. Even in childhood, children are injured all the time. Knee injuries are only one of many examples; however, knee injuries can also be serious. According to a research study that was published recently:
- A group of researchers analyzed children between the ages of 5 and 14 years
- The study period lasted 10 years
- The children were hospitalized due to concerns for an ACL injury
- The majority of the children sustaining ACL tears were between the ages of 10 and 14
- Injuries in boys were more common than injuries in girls
- The vast majority of children who sustained significant injuries did so while playing sports
- Finally, the rate of ACL injuries tripled between 2005 and 2015
These numbers are concerning and highlight for everyone just how concerning knee injuries can be. While ACL injuries are serious, there are also minor knee injuries as well. Therefore, it is important for parents to understand how these injuries occur and how they can be prevented. What are a few of the possible knee problems a child could suffer?
Injuries of the Knee: The Mechanisms
First, there are lots of different ways knee injuries occur. There are two broad categories that parents should remember. These include:
Contact Injuries: Contact injuries are the first broad category. Contact injuries occur when two athletes collide while in the field of play. Think about a defender who tackles a receiver or a soccer player who collides with another player while going for the ball. When knees collide, athletes often double over in pain. This is termed a contact injury.
Non-Contact Injuries: The other broad category is a non-contact injury. This is a knee injury that takes place without a collision in the field play. Think about a player who is running and suddenly falls over after making a sharp cut. These are typically different than contact injuries and, unfortunately, are often more severe.
Knee Injuries: The Differential Diagnosis
With these categories in mind, doctors often evaluate injuries on the premise of either contact or non-contact. Some of the possible injuries include:
- If a player has suffered a contact injury, there are often bruises or scrapes present. Therefore, athletes typically sustain a contusion (or bruise) of the knee. In major collisions, there could be a bone fracture present in or around the knee.
- With a non-contact injury, the doctor will be concerned about a possible tear or rupture. When players make a sharp cut, they could stress the ligaments in the knee to the point of breaking. This is how an ACL, MCL, or meniscus tear may occur.
Without a doubt, ligament tears can happen with contact injuries; however, the initial evaluation of a knee injury is often based on the mechanism.
Treatment Options: Vary with Injury Severity
Finally, the treatment will depend on the diagnosis. The doctor will perform a variety of physical exam maneuvers to assess the likelihood of a ligament tear. If this likelihood is high, an MRI will deliver the final diagnosis. Ligament tears often require surgery to fix.
If the ligaments are intact and no bone fracture is present, the treatment is RICE. This stands for:
This is important in the treatment of sprains. The ice can help reduce swelling while also giving the knee time to recover. Some players require physical therapy to complete the recovery process.
Contact a Local Pediatrician
It is important for parents to rely on their local pediatrician for information related to sports injuries. Some of the information a pediatrician can share include:
- Various exercises that could help children strengthen the muscles around their knee
- Preventative advice to keep children healthy and active
- Information regarding the possible knee injuries that a child could suffer
- Treatment options for knee sprains
- Surgical options for children with severe knee injuries
Finally, every parent needs to know that there are pediatricians who are willing to lend a helping hand. Doctors are there to keep children healthy and to help families in their time of need. Therefore, do not hesitate to reach out and ask for assistance. Help is always just a phone call away.
David Randolph, MD
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