Q: [School Age] My athletic 13-year-old has been complaining of aches and pains from basketball. Should I be worried?
A: Childhood bumps and bruises are as common as sippy cups and mac and cheese. The risk of injuries may be amplified once jungle gyms, and organized sports are in play. While many injuries can be fixed with hugs and a small bandage, certain falls and sports injuries may need help from your child’s trusted doctor.
There are many possible injuries that do not have an obvious fall or a painful twist. Children regularly report aches after play, and often parents struggle to balance over-reacting with missing something.
As a pediatric and sports medicine specialist, I’d like to share subtle injury patterns that if parents are seeing, the doctor should as well. Of course, this is general advice and does not take the place of getting recommendations from your child’s doctor.
- Any limp or not wanting to use an arm or leg. This includes not being able to bend or straighten an injured joint.
Pain that can be identified by a fingertip other than a general area is particularly concerning.
Something is “off.” Realize that most head injuries do not have a loss of consciousness, and often changes in behavior with other symptoms such as headaches, trouble with reading/screens, or irritability/moodiness are early signs of concern.
Reduced accuracy—often seen as throws or kicks going higher than usual.
When that parental instinct makes you uncertain if your child should continue to play.
So, if there are any concerning changes after falls, twists, bumps or bruises, it is definitely safer to get a comprehensive evaluation and accurate diagnosis from your child’s doctor. A specific and well-constructed post-injury plan very well might be the most important difference between a safe and quicker return to play or prolonged disability and recurrent injury.
Dr. Chris Koutures is a dual board-certified pediatric and sports medicine specialist who practices at ActiveKidMD in Anaheim Hills. Please visit activekidmd.com or follow him on Twitter (@dockoutures).