Summertime along with school holidays has become prime time for young athletes to pound, pitch, and pursue their athletic passions, producing ever more injuries.
Twenty years ago, doctors were seeing a few children or adolescents with sports injuries. Today, as an Orthopaedic Surgeon specializing in sports Injuries and Joint Replacements, I see an epidemic of stress fractures, tears, and worn-down joints in youngsters as they are taking up sports earlier, and playing at higher intensities more competitively, the competitive push coming as much from the parents as from the children.
Knee Ligament injury (ACL tear) is one of the commonest injury among young athletes, particularly young women. This is mainly seen in athletes who play football, basketball and other contact sports. The reason for this gender bias is probably because they haven’t developed the muscle mass needed to stabilize their legs during and after growth spurts. More than 50% of my patients for Arthroscopic ACL reconstruction have been young girls and women in the recent past. The injury sustained by these young athletes is similar in nature to those of adults but it can’t always be treated in the same way because their bodies are still growing. Any damage to the growth plate may lead to uneven growth of the limbs. For such growing patients alternative techniques to conventional ACL reconstructive surgery like ALL-inside, All – Epiphyseal ACL reconstruction is recommended.
Specializing in one sport at a young age often leads to overuse injuries because the athlete is repeating the same motion over and over again in the same area of the body, leaving him or her more vulnerable to degenerative joint problems.
Cross-training. Encouraging young athletes to branch out and try one or two other sports that would help build up other areas of the body and give the overused parts a break should be recommended.