GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV) The school sports season is ramping up, keeping students busy with practices and games every night of the week. With many young athletes now focusing all their efforts on excelling in sports, there is concern that this intense commitment could cause lifelong injury.
Spectrum Health Medical Group Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine specialists are providing complimentary sports injury clinics on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. through November 1, 2014. Walk-ins are welcome. No appointment is necessary.
Sports are increasingly competitive at all ages. Starting at a very young age, many children are involved in different sports or activities such as gymnastics, soccer, or dance. The problem starts when children select one sport to focus on and continue this sport nonstop for many years.
Chloe, age 11 at the time, was having pain in her elbow. When she could no longer extend her arm after her gymnastic practices, her dad knew it was time to seek medical help.
“By the time I saw Chloe, she had been dealing with pain for almost two years. We did an MRI and found loose pieces of cartilage and joint damage in her elbow,” said Matthew Axtman, DO, Spectrum Health Medical Group Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine.
Chloe had surgery to repair her elbow within a couple weeks of her diagnosis, followed by six months of physical therapy, before she could continue training.
“These kinds of cartilage lesions happen a lot with repetitive sports,” said James Lebolt, DO, the surgeon on Chloe’s case from Spectrum Health Medical Group. “If not treated properly, osteochondritis, or OCD, can be a career ender. We encourage prevention of these types of injuries by taking a month off during the year to let your body rest. Alternate upper and lower extremity sports so that you’re not overusing any one area.”
The sports medicine physicians warn there are signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Swelling that last more than 24 hours
- Pain that doesn’t improve with over the counter pain relievers
- Locking, catching, giving way of a joint
“If you let it go too long, the injury becomes more serious, and it can take you out of your sport completely,” says Dr. Axtman.