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Health Issues

Overuse syndromes, the other major category of injuries among young sports enthusiasts, are so subtle that they usually go unnoticed at first. Over time, though, repeated damage to the same anatomic area can culminate in tendinitis, bursitis and other injuries, such as stress fractures. Overuse injuries are more common in repetitive motion, as noted in swimming, running or dance. This is in contrast to acute injuries, which are more common in contact or collision sports, such as football or hockey.

Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD)

In this condition, there is inflammation of the site where the tendon from the thigh muscle meets the shin bone. Adolescents are predisposed to injury in this area (tibial tubercle) because it is still growing. OSD is associated with running and jumping sports such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics and ice-skating. The symptoms of swelling and mild pain over the tibial tubercle usually go away on their own within one to two years if the condition is recognized and properly managed. Complications are limited to a localized bump.

Anterior Knee Pain

Normally the kneecap glides smoothly over the end of the femur or thigh bone. Sometimes, though, it shifts slightly and grates against the bone. A youngster may find it painful to sit for long periods of time, as when riding in a car or watching a movie.

Sever’s Disease

This is inflammation of one or both heel bones, producing mild pain. Running and jumping exacerbate this condition, seen primarily in young basketball and soccer players.

Shin Splints

This common injury involves the muscles or tendons that surround the tibia, better known as the shin bone. Pain can be noted in the muscle-tendon units of the tibia and a stress fracture of the leg bones may develop. The pain may improve with resting the leg, use of pain medications, a change in the exercise that is causing the condition and other measures.

Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome

The leg muscles are housed within four separate compartments. When we run, the muscles expand in size and strain against the tough outer tissue that encases each compartment. The built-up pressure can impinge on blood vessels, causing muscle pain, and on nerves, leading to tingling in the foot.


This condition is a painful inflammation of a tendon due to excessive, repeated strain. Among the body parts affected are the elbow (dubbed “tennis elbow”), knee (“jumper’s knee”), the back of the heel and ankle (Achilles’ tendinitis) and the shoulder (Biceps tendinitis).

How Sports Injuries of The Bones and Soft Tissues Are Managed

Complaints of pain or stiffness should be brought to your pediatrician’s attention right away, for timely treatment can often prevent minor injuries from becoming worse or causing permanent damage. Never allow a teenager to “play through” pain.

The National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA), a professional organization with over twenty-three thousand members, studied trends in high-school sports injuries over a three-year period. Only one in eleven injuries are classified as “major,” which NATA defines as any mishap that sidelines an athlete for more than three weeks. Basic treatment frequently consists of “RICE”, an acronym that comes from rest, ice, compression and elevation. The pediatrician may additionally recommend a regimen of home exercises for improving muscle strength and flexibility. Consultation with other experts, such as sports medicine clinicians or orthopedists, may occur as well.


Last Updated
Caring for Your Teenager (Copyright © 2003 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.