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Injuries to Children: Overuse Injuries to the Growth Plates

Children’s bones are still growing, making them prone to overuse injuries at areas of the bone containing growth cartilage.  One of the most common examples of this type of injury is Osgood-Schlatters syndrome.  Other examples include Severs Syndrome which occurs at the attachment of the Achilles tendon.children

In the case of Osgood-Schlatters, a visible, painful lump appears below the knee.  Osgood-Schlatter disease tends to occur in children age 12 to 16 and is often associated with participation in sports that involve running, jumping, and sudden changes in direction (e.g. football, ballet, figure skating, basketball).  The condition is actually caused by an overstress to the growth plate, where the patellar tendon attaches to the tibia (shin bone).

The degree of pain associated with an Osgood-Schlatters can range from annoying and distracting during activity to constantly painful and mildly debilitating.  It’s common to state that Osgood-Schlatters disease and similar conditions will self-resolve in a number of years, but this is little comfort to the children.  Plus, parents, coaches, and young athletes can do more than wait.

Left unattended, these injuries may result in time off sport or even an aversion to formerly enjoyed athletics.  These injuries are suggestive of over-training, or unsuitable activities given a young athlete’s age and condition. A professional assessment is essential. Professional consultation can result in an individualized protection and improvement plan that may include targeted stretching, targeted exercises, equipment advice, and advice for training modifications.  Early diagnosis leads to good early treatment and can have a huge impact on the speed of recovery and may even prevent longer-term problems. Advanced Physiotherapy is involved with multiple sports organisations, so we prove adept at striking the right balance between protecting the health of the athlete while also encouraging fun, fitness, and athletic achievement.

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