Although injuries in both professional and amateur athletes can be serious, injuries can affect high schoolers differently than adults because many adolescents are still growing.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), oftentimes growth is uneven; your bones grow first and tug at tighter muscles and tendons, allowing for a greater risk of muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries in younger athletes.
Below are some of the most common injuries seen in high school athletes.
Growth Plate Injuries
Growth plates are sections of cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones that develop as children and adolescents grow. When an individual is fully grown, these growth plates turn into solid bone.
Growth plates determine the length and shape of your adult bones and are more susceptible to fractures and if injured, could cause bone deformity or growth issues. These injuries are common in contact sports like football as well as strenuous and powerful sports like gymnastics.
Sprains, Strains, and Fractures
Sprains, Strains, and fractures, also known as acute injuries, are caused by sudden twisting, hard landings, or a collision with another athlete or object. Sprains are partial or complete tears of a ligament and strains are partial or complete tears of a muscle or tendon. Ankle sprains are common in young athletes, and if not treated properly, can potentially lead to osteoarthritis later in life.
Other common sprains include anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and meniscus tears. Common strains include injuries of the hamstring muscle and achilles tendon. Finger, wrist, and lower extremity fractures are also common in high school athletes.
Overuse injuries are ones that occur over time when young athletes do not have enough time to recover between practice and playing. Overuse injuries in the upper extremities are common in swimming, baseball, and gymnastics from repetitive motions.
Stress fractures in the shinbone and feet are also common injuries in high school athletes when an adolescent’s activity level does not allow for the body to make new bone to replace older bone fast enough. This causes the bone to weaken and allows for these stress fractures to occur.
Prevention and Treatment
Common factors such as proper conditioning and training, equipment, and playing other sports can aid in the prevention of injuries in high school athletes. However, if you suspect your athlete has an injury, you may want to consider visiting one of our Urgent Injury Clinics open 6 days a week or request an appointment with one of our sports medicine physicians.
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