Sports Injuries in Children

Sports provide children with physical and social benefits. But sports injuries can happen, too. If your child is sidelined by a sports injury, the orthopedists and specialty doctors at MaineHealth are experienced in evaluating and treating sports injuries. We provide individualized plans to help children and teens get well and back to play as soon as possible.

What are sports injuries in children?

It is important to encourage children to participate in sports and be physically active, but also to make sure they follow the rules and play safely to avoid getting hurt. Early diagnosis and treatment of injuries is important in returning children to sports and regular activities.

Sports injuries causes

Some common causes of sports injuries in children:

  • Improper training/playing

  • Overtraining

  • Improper footwear

  • Improper safety equipment

  • Rapid growth during puberty

Types of sports injuries in children

Sports injuries can occur during various sports and activities for children. Some common types of sports injuries in children include:

  • Sprains and strains

  • Growth plate injuries

  • Repetitive motion injuries

  • Heat-related illness

  • Broken bones/fractures

  • Concussions

  • Cuts


Treating sports injuries in children

Treatment for sports injuries in children depends on the injury. Many injuries can be treated with RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

  • Rest. Reduce your regular activities. Take weight off of the injured body part.
  • Ice. Use an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes, four to eight times a day. Take the ice off after 20 minutes to avoid cold injury.
  • Compression. Put even pressure on the injured area to help reduce swelling. You can use an elastic wrap, special boot, air cast, or splint depending on the type of injury.
  • Elevation. Put the injured area on a pillow, at a level above your heart, to help reduce swelling.

Other treatments may include:

  • Physical therapy

  • Medication for pain and inflammation

  • Splints, slings, casts, or leg immobilizers

  • Surgery

A rehabilitation medicine program also can help you stay fit as you recover. As part of your treatment program, it might include exercise, physical therapy, and ultrasound technology to help with the pain and improve healing.

Preventing sports injuries in children

There are some measures that can be taken to try to prevent sports injuries in children. Some prevention methods include:

  • Protective gear for a particular sport

  • Tape to provide support

  • Additional padding

  • Proper shoes that provide protection and support

  • Warm-ups and cool downs as part of a routine

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises

  • Access to water or a sports drink while playing

  • Sport-specific safety rules

  • Good night’s sleep and proper rest

  • Playing a variety of sports that work the body in different ways rather than always doing the same sport