“Teah started limping during technical training on a Monday night and you could see she was in some pain. Her knee was mildly swollen, and she could not make any lateral movements without considerable pain.” –Patient Testimonial from Andrew Vloedman
This is one story among thousands told by young athletes around the globe. Whether during a game, scrimmage, or training, one of the biggest fears for student athletes is sustaining an injury that keeps them away from the sport they love.
The knee is a complex joint that our bodies rely on for everyday mobility. Because of its functionality, the knee is also highly susceptible to injury, especially in young athletes. All it takes for the joint to fail is one wrong move: an overextended leg, a sudden fall, a pivot gone wrong. This is especially true for young student athletes whose bodies are still growing and learning to coordinate. Proper training and stability are crucial to keeping a young athlete healthy and pain free while on the field.
Common Knee Injuries in Young Athletes
Knee injuries in young athletes are often caused by a fall or a blow to the knee. Sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer, gymnastics, and football all rely on the knee joints to perform movements like running, jumping, and pivoting. Repetitive, jarring movements, especially if the athlete does not maintain proper form, can put them in danger of sustaining a painful knee injury. This risk is increased if their muscles and joints are already injured from overtraining.
A few of the most common knee injuries in young athletes are:
While some injuries, like patellar tendonitis and Osgood-Schlatter disease, often resolve themselves given enough time and rest, others have severe and long-lasting consequences. Fractures and ligament tears often require surgery and weeks of physical therapy to ensure proper recovery. One well-known injury, often described as a “career-ender” in many professional sports, is an ACL tear.
These injuries are notorious for setting an athlete back physically and mentally. Not only will they cause the athlete to fall behind in their training, but they can also deal an emotional blow to many young athletes who must watch their teammates push on without them.
Fortunately, sports medicine has improved dramatically over the years, and treatment methods for even the most severe injuries have evolved for the better. Although these injuries can still test a young athlete’s resolve, they are no longer considered the “career-enders” that they were years ago.
Knee Injuries in the Field: First Aid & Treatment Tips
Whether you’ve been hurt in the middle of a game, or injured off the field, the first thing to do is follow the RICE method to ensure your knee doesn’t sustain further damage.
Rest: Stay off the injured knee as much as you can. If the injury is severe, you may need the help of a teammate to move to a safe area. Do not try to “walk it off” when you first feel pain, as this likely will make the injury worse.
Ice: If you notice any swelling or redness, keep an ice pack on your knee to help reduce inflammation and control blood flow. The coolness from the ice pack will also help to numb the area and relieve some of the pain. Keep the ice pack on the area for 20 minutes at a time, giving yourself a break every 20 minutes to re-examine the area.
Compression: Wrapping the injured knee in an elastic medical bandage can also help decrease swelling. Keep the wrap snug around the knee, but not too tightly. Loosen the bandage if you feel any numbness or tingling below the wrapped area.
Elevation: Keep the injured leg elevated above your heart. Not only does this reduce the swelling by controlling blood flow, but it can also reduce pain. An easy way to elevate your leg is to prop it up on pillows while lying down.
Once your body has healed, it will take some time and effort to go back to performing as well as you may have been used to. Depending on how much time it took to recover, you might detect signs of muscle weakness and reduced range of motion. You can strengthen your muscles and improve mobility with physical therapy stretches and exercises, but make sure you listen to your body and don’t rush back into training.
Improving Knee Strength and Stability
Your hamstrings, glutes, quads, and calves are all powerful muscles that support and stabilize the knee joint. These muscles must work together to ensure the knee is able to support your weight during movement. Weakness or imbalance in these muscles could lead to a serious knee injury down the road.
To help boost your recovery and improve your overall performance, focus on building strength in each of these muscles. In the video below, Dr. Sue, DC demonstrates a few exercises that you can add to your daily routine to help strengthen these important muscles and improve knee stability.
*Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.
Get Back in the Game with Airrosti
We are dedicated to helping our athletic patients get back on the field quickly, often performing even better than before. Our providers have treated hundreds of athletes, from young students to professional competitors.
If a recent knee injury is keeping you off the field, schedule an appointment with an Airrosti provider today. At Airrosti, our providers take the time needed to properly assess and treat the root cause of your pain and resolve injuries at the source. Based on patient-reported outcomes, our providers can resolve most injuries in as few as three visits.
If you prefer to find treatment from the comfort of your home, consider scheduling a remote telehealth appointment. With telehealth, we can deliver our expertise directly to you.
Give us a call at (800) 404-6050 to learn more.
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