This summer, kids everywhere are spending most of their time off running, jumping, biking, and playing. From soccer camps to swim meets to football clinics…it seems no sport is out of season! Injury and illness are an unfortunate but common side effect to having a child who is an active athlete. According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 2.6 million children are treated in emergency departments for sports related injuries every year.
Urgent Care for Kids is proud to be involved in little leagues, swim teams, and summer camps in our community, keeping kids safe and healthy. As we are preparing to provide first aid to the Kiwanis Kids Triathlons happening around Houston this summer, we want to share some helpful tips to help keep your little all-star safe, healthy, and in the game.
Sprain v. Strain
According to the NIH, strains and sprains are some of the most common sport injuries in children. A sprain is a stretch or tear of a ligament, while a strain is an over-stretching or tearing of a muscle or tendon.
A sprain happens when you suddenly fall, twist, or are hit in a way that forces a joint out of position and stretches or tears the ligament. A sprain happens when you land on an outstretched arm, step on the side of your foot, or slide into a base in a baseball game. You might hear a “pop” when the injury occurs, and the site of the sprain will be painful, appear swollen and bruised. The afflicted body part will be immobile or less functional than usual.
A strain happens when you twist or pull a muscle or tendon, usually as a result of overuse. A strain happens when you try to lift something too heavy, or do a repetitive strenuous motion (such as swinging a tennis racquet). A strain will cause pain, muscle spasms, cramping, and weakness. If your child suffers from a sprain or strain, it’s best to administer the RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) treatment as soon as possible. If the injury is so severe the child cannot put weight on the injury, there is numbness, or they are in severe pain it’s best to take them to see a medical professional. Urgent Care for Kids is open nights, weekends, and holidays with the ability to perform X-Ray and splinting services!
Scrapes, cuts, and road rash are common place on the sports field. Abrasion with a hard surface will cause exposed skin to tear and usually bleed. Whoever is caring for the cut should wash their hands with antibacterial soap. The first step to treating a cut or scrape is cleaning the wound to prevent infection. Wash the area with water and soap, carefully removing dirt or debris. Next, stop the bleeding with gauze or cloth by applying firm pressure. Once the bleeding has stopped, apply a clean bandage and antibacterial ointment. Don’t forget to replace the bandage regularly to prevent infection!
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta defines shin splints as pain in the lower leg near the shin. This injury is a result of inflammation in the tissue that connects muscle to the tibia, and is caused by repetitive running on hard surfaces. Oftentimes, this injury is a signal that you are overtraining or are training improperly. If your child is experiencing shin splints, you can apply the same RICE treatment method described in sprains and strains. Anti-inflammatory medication can help ease the pain and swelling. When the pain has eased, he or she can try playing again, starting slowly and safely. Be sure to let their coach or instructor know that they have an injury so they can modify their stretching, form, and footwear. In addition, compression wraps can be worn during activities to prevent pain.
Having children active in sports is proven to improve their overall well-being. We want to be sure to treat these recreational injuries correctly we can make sure they don’t stay out of the game for too long!