Overuse Injuries in Children More Common Than Believed

Repetitive motion injuries in young athletes common and avoidable

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Youth sports are an important part of many children’s lives. New guidelines can help child athletes and their parents better understand overuse injuries.

The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) recently released new recommendations for child and adolescent athletes to help lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Research suggests that athletes should participate in more than one sport to help limit the time spent practicing repetitive motions.

The AMSSM recommended careful monitoring of training during adolescent growth spurts, a period when injury risk may be highest.

"Talk to your doctor if swelling or soreness occur repeatedly."

This report was led by John P. DiFiori, MD, from the Division of Sports Medicine and Non-Operative Orthopaedics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

This research team performed a massive keyword search for articles related to overuse injuries in youth sports. Of the nearly 1,000 articles found, 208 were relevant and used for this study.

“Not only are overuse injuries in young athletes likely much more common than is realized, these injuries can require lengthy recovery periods, and in some cases, they can result in long-term health consequences,” said Dr. DiFiori in a press statement.

According to this report, 50 percent of sports injuries are overuse injuries but their impact on the athlete is underestimated since they usually do not result in a loss of playing time.

The researchers considered overuse injuries to be those that occur because of motions that are repeated numerous times without adequate rest to allow the body to adapt to the new workload. Swelling, pain, muscle strain or tissue damage are common overuse injuries.

These researchers emphasized that social, emotional, cognitive and physical factors all play a role in overuse injuries in child and adolescent athletes.

“Children grow and mature at different rates, making chronologic age a poor barometer for parents and coaches to set expectations and gauge progress,” said Dr. DiFiori. “Understanding this can be critical to a child’s self-esteem and motivation to continue participating.”

Recommendations included the need to consider prior injuries during pre-participation examinations because of a heightened risk of overuse injury.

The AMSSM recommended pre-season conditioning, limiting weekly and yearly participation time and limits on sport-specific repetitive motions such as pitching in baseball.

This report was published January 3 in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine.

The authors reported no conflict of interest.

Review Date: 
January 7, 2014
Last Updated:
January 7, 2014