Back to articles

Keep kids off the sidelines

Orthopedic, News

Learn about 3 common sports injuries in children and how they are treated.

It’s reason to cheer: Young athletes in Lake County are finally heading back to the field and court. But returning to play also brings the potential for sports injuries.

“Kids haven’t been able to actively participate in sports for the past year and their muscle memory isn’t there anymore,” says Amber Chatwin, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Adventist Health Clear Lake. “You can’t go from zero to 100 — proper training is crucial.”

Make sure your kids are ramping up activity gradually. If they do get one of these common injuries, here’s what you need to know.

1. Little Leaguer’s elbow

Despite being named after a youth baseball program, this overuse injury affects throwing athletes of all ages. Repetitive throwing motions can stretch and compress the elbow’s ligaments, leading to inner elbow pain. Your athlete should rest until he or she is pain-free.

Monitoring your child is key. “Count pitches to make sure children are not pitching too much, because that can cause issues with their elbow as they’re growing,” Dr. Chatwin says.

2. Osgood-Schlatter disease

Sports that involve running and jumping can stress your child’s developing knees. In this condition, the patellar ligament repeatedly pulls on the shinbone and inflames the growth plate. The result? Swelling and pain below the kneecap. Dr. Chatwin suggests starting with

RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. If your child can’t bear weight or has unmanageable pain, talk to your primary care physician.

3. Ankle sprain

A simple pivot on the soccer field can result in a painful ankle sprain for your child. Most sprains are mild and improve with RICE; even for mild sprains, physical therapy can improve strength and stability, Dr. Chatwin says. This rehab is especially important because more serious sprains usually occur after multiple ankle injuries. A pop or snap may indicate a torn ligament. Your primary care physician will likely want an X-ray or MRI.

3 tips to return to play

1. RICE: Rest, ice, compression and elevation.

2. Rehabilitate: Follow the doctor and physical therapist’s orders to help rebuild your child’s strength and stability.

3. Slowly increase intensity: Even if your child feels back to normal, ease back into competition slowly.

Meet Amber Chatwin, MD

Adventist Health Clear Lake welcomes board-certified orthopedic surgeon Amber Chatwin, MD, FAAOS, to Lake County. Dr. Chatwin specializes in joint pain, fracture care, and arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgeries.

Schedule a consultation

Dr. Chatwin’s goal is to help athletes young and old return to the activities they love. Call 707-995-4518 today to make an appointment.