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Pediatric Sports Overuse Injuries

An increasing number of children are playing recreational and organized sports. As a result, there is a rise in the number of overuse injuries seen among children and teens. Most sports and overuse injuries are due to injuries that affect the bone, muscles, ligaments or tendons.

Common injuries include: 

Jumper's Knee (Patellar Tendonitis)

Symptoms: Tenderness right below the knee or the upper shin area
Possible cause: The patellar tendon in the knee joint is repeatedly pulled on, causing inflammation and pain, especially during jumping activities.

Little Leaguers' Elbow or Shoulder

Symptoms: Pain in the elbow or shoulder area, especially after activity
Possible cause: Repetitive overhead throwing maneuvers that cause damage and inflammation to the growth plates of the bones in the arm (or as a result of a fracture).

Osteochondritis Dissecans

Symptoms: Joint pain and swelling.
Possible cause: A piece of the cartilage in the knee, elbow, or ankle joint that separates from the joint surface. Theories suggest that it may run in families or be caused by a metabolic problem.

Sever's Disease

Symptoms: Heel pain with limping, especially after running activities
Possible cause: Repetitive running or jumping activities causes the Achilles tendon to pull on the heel bone.

Shin Splints

Symptoms: Pain and tenderness over the shin area
Possible cause: Excessive running, running on hard surfaces (concrete), and improper shoe wear often cause shin splints.

Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Disease

Symptoms: Knee pain, especially after jumping activities
Possible cause: This disease is caused by an irritation of the kneecap due to repetitive extension on the patellar tendon in the knee (the tendon pulls away from the bone).


Symptoms: Back pain
Possible cause: This condition is caused by excessive extension of the low back. X-rays show that a part of 1 vertebra in the low back slips forward on the vertebrae below it. It's commonly seen in football linemen, gymnasts and ice skaters.


Symptoms: Back pain
Possible cause: This condition is caused by excessive flexion and extension of the lower back. It's commonly seen in football linemen, gymnasts and ice skaters. A stress fracture of one of the vertebrae is seen on X-ray.

Stress Fractures

Overuse injuries can also lead to stress fractures. Stress fractures are weak spots or small cracks in the bone caused by continuous overuse. Stress fractures often occur in the foot after training for basketball, running, and other sports. There often is no swelling, but pain and tenderness often increase during movement.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the treatment for overuse injuries in children?

What is the long-term outlook for children with overuse injuries?

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