Health & Wellness

Next Steps for Sports Injuries

School sports injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. Each injury is unique and should be treated as such. See the steps you should take after your child experiences a sports injury.

Most Common Sports Injuries and Treatment for Each

The severity of the following injuries can range from minor to serious. Improper technique, lack of stretching or warming up, or accidents may cause any of these. If your child experiences one of these four common sports injuries, take appropriate action.

Ankle sprain. This injury typically occurs when the foot imbalances and turns inward, causing stretches or tears on the outer ankle. With an ankle sprain, it’s important to do exercises advised by your physician to prevent loss of flexibility and strength. If the ankle continues to swell or feels tender, it’s best to seek medical advice.

Knee injury: ACL. One of the most common sports injuries, an ACL knee injury can occur when your child abruptly stops in motion or gets hit in the side of the knee, causing a strain or tear. An immediate “pop” sound indicates a sudden tear. If you suspect any strain or tear, always seek medical assistance.

Hamstring sprain. A hamstring sprain occurs when a sharp movement over-stretches the hamstring and causes stress or tears on the muscle. This kind of sprain takes the longest to recover from, so taking the time to let the muscle heal is crucial. Being that it’s hard for children to stay inactive, experts advise rest since re-injury is very common. If the hamstring continues to cause pain or discomfort, seek medical attention.

Concussion. A concussion is caused by a bump or jolt to the head. Head injuries can be easily overlooked or undetected. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to recognize people or places
  • Progressively worsening headache
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Slurred speech

If you suspect your child may have a concussion, seek medical attention immediately.

Doctor’s Orders

Advise your child to never ‘work through’ the pain of any sports injury. Playing or exercising may only cause more harm, and certain injuries should be seen by a doctor right away. A general treatment rule of thumb is the RICE treatment:

Rest. Give your injury time to heal.

Ice for 20 minutes at a time to reduce pain or swelling.

Compress with an elastic wrap to help with swelling.

Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows anytime you are sitting or lying down.

Thomas Campbell, MD, physician at CHI St. Joseph Health Primary Care University Drive, says, “Part of the road to recovery is to rest, stretch and then strengthen. Your athletic trainer can help, but your doctor can get you some self stretches, professional physical therapy or occupational therapy outside of school as needed.”

Call your primary care physician if:

  • Your child’s injury causes severe pain, swelling or numbness.

  • Your child can’t put any weight on the injury.

  • An old injury swells, aches or causes pain.

If your child experiences a sports injury, it’s important to have a physician at the ready. CHI St. Joseph Health offers a Saturday Sports Injury Clinic, where orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine physicians, physical therapists and athletic trainers are available to provide free injury evaluations, therapeutic exercises and treatment tips for middle and high school athletes. Learn more about our Sports Medicine services.



The Seven Most Common Sports Injuries

Hamstring Strain

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