How To Recognize Serious Sports' Injuries in Children - And What To Do Next

Soccer officials helping injured player during kids' game

Orthopedic Sports Medicine Doctors in New York Explain What You Should Know

Fall is the start of a new and exciting sports season for football, soccer, basketball, and other athletics.

At Island Musculoskeletal Care (IMC Bone Doc) in New York, this season is also about child sports injury awareness.

Serious sports-related injuries are skyrocketing across the U.S., so knowing the signs of various sports injuries and how to respond to them is important for any parent, but especially if you have an active child. When you notice signs of a bad sports injury, you can get your child medical attention as soon as possible. The sooner you address sports injuries, the less permanent damage they are likely to do.

Even if you think the injury is minor, there may be other problems that can only be diagnosed by an experienced sports medicine physician.

Which sports cause the most injuries to children?

According to the Insurance Information Institute, sports injuries vary widely by age. Factors include the body's ability to bounce back from an injury, fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, vision, preexisting conditions, and interest. Nationwide, the sports that reported the most injuries to teens and young adults ages 15-24 include (from most to least injuries reported):

  • Basketball
  • Exercise, exercise equipment
  • Skateboards, scooters
  • ATVs, mopeds, minibikes
  • Bicycling, bicycle accessories
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Baseball, softball
  • Swimming, pools and equipment
  • Fishing

The results are not the same for young children. In the age range of 5-14, the sports with the most injuries reported include (from most incidents to least): Bicycling, skateboards and scooters, playground equipment, basketball, and trampolines.

How To Recognize Sports Injuries in Children

Acute injuries

This term applies to just about any injury resulting from sudden trauma. In sports, a wild pitch, a hard hit, or a fall could lead to acute trauma. Common types of acute injuries range from minor to severe and include bruises, sprains, strains, broken bones, torn ligaments, scratched corneas, detached retinas, brain injuries, concussions, skull fractures, brain hemorrhages, and spinal cord injuries.

This type of injury is frequently, but not always, due to a lack of proper equipment or improper use of equipment.

If one or more of your child's basic functions have been affected by a sports injury, you should bring them in to see a doctor that focuses on sports medicine. Some examples of when to see a medical professional include if your child can't move a finger, they're limping or they have lost consciousness for any amount of time. When these symptoms are observed, get emergency medical care, then take the child to see a sports medicine doctor.

Overuse injuries

An overuse injury is just like it sounds: pain that results from doing something again, and again, and again. Sports are often extremely repetitive and physically demanding. Among the more common overuse injuries are: anterior knee pain, "Little League elbow," swimmer's shoulder, shin splints, spondylolysis (persistent lower back pain).

When overuse injuries occur in children, they can be aggravated by growth spurts.

If your child is complaining of pain after a sports injury, take them to see an orthopedic sports medicine doctor. This is the body's way of communicating something is wrong. In overuse injuries, pain is often accompanied by swelling and inflammation. A doctor can diagnose an overuse injury by taking a medical history, performing an exam, and ordering things like X-rays, if needed.


When someone returns to play before they adequately heal, they are at risk of reinjury. Playing with an injury requires the rest of the body to compensate for the weakness. This puts the athlete in jeopardy of sustaining a second injury or making the original problem worse.

Contact a sports medicine doctor today

After a serious sports injury, it is important that your child is seen by an experienced orthopedics and sports medicine doctor as soon as possible. This is the most critical thing you can do to receive a proper diagnose and help prevent the development of serious, lifelong damage.

Sports injuries are unique. As such, you need a doctor who knows how to handle them correctly. With more than 100 years of combined medical experience, our sports medicine doctors know how to help.

Schedule an appointment with IMC Bone Doc at one of our New York City or Long Island offices, including those in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Deer Park, Patchogue, Queens, Shirley, and Valley Stream.

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