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Sports Medicine

Pediatric and Adolescent Sports Medicine

Child and adolescent sports medicine participation is increasing, the spectrum of sports played is widening, and the focus on single sport participation is rising. It is not surprising that, as our children and adolescents increase their sports participation, they get injured more often.

Sports medicine injuries in children and adolescents encompass a wide variety of injuries; including fractures, overuse conditions, growth plate injuries, cartilage damage, joint dislocations, and tears of muscles or ligaments. Fortunately, most of these conditions will heal with simple, non-surgical treatments such as activity modification (ie rest), ice, medication, bracing, and physical therapy

Common Overuse Injuries
The most common overuse injuries in growing children and adolescents involve growth plates. Growth plates are cartilage areas located near the ends of growing bones. The most common locations of growth plate sports injuries are:
  •             Knee (“Osgood-Schlatter’s Disease)
  •             Heel (“Sever’s Disease)
  •             Shoulder (“Little-Leaguer’s Shoulder”)
  •             Elbow (“Little-Leaguer’s Elbow”)

Many of these overuse injuries share common treatments: activity modification, ice, bracing, and stretching / strengthening of involved muscles which attach near the growth plate.

Less Common Sports Injuries
Injuries to ligaments, cartilage, and bone can also occur with sports. Common injuries seen in this age group include shoulder and kneecap (“patellar”) dislocations, knee ligament or meniscal tears, and bone/cartilage separation within the knee, ankle, or elbow joint (“osteochondritis dissecans”). There can also be congenital meniscal conditions which make subsequent meniscal tears more likely. Some of these conditions may require surgery, which often can be performed arthroscopically (through small incisions using small cameras to look and repair structures inside of joints).

Diagnosis of Sports Injuries
Most common sports injuries can be diagnosed by taking a medical history, performing a physical examination, and obtaining radiographs (“x-rays”). Occasionally, if a cartilage or ligament injury is suspected, and MRI may be indicated.

Our Team
At Orthopaedic Institute for Children (OIC), the sports team includes a wide range of specialists at two different locations (Downtown and Santa Monica) to treat your child.  This team includes 4 pediatric orthopaedic surgeons (one of whom holds dual training and accredation in pediatric orthopaedic surgery and orthopaedic sports medicine), 1 non-operative sports medicine physician with training and accredation in sports medicine, 6 nurse practitioners, medical assistants, and a network of physical therapists convenient to both locations. Our team goal at OIC is to help each child return to their sport activities as quickly and safely as possible with the shortest possible recovery time.