When it comes to youth sports injury rates, the number of injuries reported for teenage athletes is quite comparable to the number of professional athlete injuries. In fact, there are 2 million injuries that occur each year from high school sports-related activities. The concern with youth and high school sports injuries is that teen athletes are still growing, their muscles and tendons are trying to keep up with their bones and sustaining injuries while in this stage puts them more at risk for acute and overuse injuries.
Acute injuries occur from sudden trauma (bruises, tears, sprains) and overuse injuries (stress fractures, issues with the growth plate) are brought about over time. As a parent of a teen athlete, it’s important to understand which injuries are most common based on the sport they play.
What are common injuries in high school sports?
It was previously noted that there are twice as many high school athlete injuries than basketball injuries. Football injuries run the gamut from serious injuries like concussions to acute injuries like ligament sprains and fractures, but the majority of these injuries are centralized to the musculoskeletal system. However, out of the different high school sports, football continues to turn out some of the highest concussion rates.
Common basketball injuries include ankle sprains and hip and thigh injuries. The good news is that these types of injuries generally don’t require surgery. Being a contact sport, basketball also opens the door for growth plate injuries. With teen athletes, this is a cause for concern because it could result in bone deformity and hinder bone growth.
In a 2017 study, the most common soccer injuries included ligament sprains, concussions, and muscle strains. While soccer is a generally safe sport, the likelihood of sustaining a head or neck injury is possible, given the nature of the sport when making contact with other players or heading the soccer ball.
Unsurprisingly, hockey and concussions tend to go hand-in-hand. As teen athletes are still growing, their maturing neck muscles are more susceptible to sustaining concussions. Following concussions, other common hockey injuries include those of the knee, shoulder, and ankle. With adequate rest and monitoring from an orthopedic surgeon, hockey players can recover without needing surgery.
There is typically 1 injury per 1000 high school baseball practices or games. It’s common for baseball players, specifically pitchers, to experience shoulder and elbow overuse injuries. Muscle strains and sprains central to the shoulder or elbow may require surgery and some injuries will force players to sit out for the season.
Even though concussions are a fairly common injury among cheerleaders, concussion rates among these athletes are considerably lower when compared to other youth sports. Other common injuries include ligament sprains and ankle injuries. During both practice and competition, cheerleaders are constantly performing stunts and tumbling and injury due to contact with another athlete is likely.
The most common of swimming injuries is the swimmer’s shoulder. Injuries specific to the shoulder include rotator cuff impingement, bicep tendonitis, and shoulder instability. Treating Swimmer’s Shoulder begins with confirming the diagnosis via X-rays or MRIs followed by treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, and physical therapy. Learn more about the different approaches to treating Swimmer’s Shoulder.
Prevention of acute and overuse injuries is absolutely attainable. It comes down to proper stretching, conditioning, and adhering to safety guidelines during play. If your teen athlete experiences a strain or injury, you must ensure they take the time to recover, especially when their bodies are still growing. It’s also important to monitor their performance, as injuries often occur when there’s a shift in the duration or frequency in activity.
As a highly respected Orthopedic Surgeon with extensive experience in sports medicine, Dr. Van Thiel’s services are tailored to the specific needs of athletes. He is currently affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks Medical Network and is an active physician for the US National Soccer Teams. In order to ensure the safety of your teen athlete, you should consult with a professional to receive an accurate assessment and recovery plan to get them back to their active lifestyle.