Field Sports Injuries on the Rise for Children
Overuse and lack of proper equipment elevates risk for pain and injury
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Spring and summer bring longer days and, for many children, lots of outdoor activity. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS) reminds parents and coaches that increased participation in outdoor sports can also increase the number of foot and ankle injuries, particularly for children who play field sports.
Ankle sprains alone account for 10 percent of all injuries seen in emergency departments. ACFAS calls for parents and coaches to educate themselves on the signs of foot and ankle injuries and to seek treatment early. Among the most popular summer recreational activities are field sports, such as flag football, lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, baseball and softball—sports that often require the use of rubber-molded cleats and, in some cases, metal screw-on spikes.
"Children under the age of 10 are at special risk for sports injuries, especially when cleats are involved," said Timothy Swartz, DPM, FACFAS, a Maryland-based foot and ankle surgeon and Fellow member of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. "Aside from creating imbalances that could result in ankle sprains, continuous running in a cleated shoe can injure and inflame the growth plate in the heel, causing a painful condition called calcaneal apophysitis, which can be extremely slow to heal and, in extreme cases, may require surgical intervention."
Overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, are also a major risk factor for younger athletes whose bones are still growing. ACFAS advises parents and coaches to be alert to a child limping on and off the field and to never encourage children to play through pain. Parents should watch for symptoms of common sport injuries, including pain during normal activity, swelling, bruising, and in more serious cases, tissue tears.