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Three Major Kids’ Soccer Injuries to Know About

With spring soccer season in full swing, young soccer players are excited to be back on the field with their friends playing the most popular sport in the world. Parents too are excited to get their kids outside running around and expending energy in a healthy way.

No matter the age, soccer is a physically challenging, contact sport, meaning acute injuries will happen. Practices, games and tournaments accumulate, and soccer can take a toll on growing bodies. As children continue to develop, repetitive stress from year-round training in the same sport can also put them at risk of overuse injuries.

Depending on the age, level of competition and athletic ability, there are three main injuries that we see the most frequently that may affect the kids when they transition back to the field from the offseason. Knowing what to look for can potentially reduce the longevity of the symptoms and help your eager athletes get back up to full speed.

Severs Disease

Ages 8 12

Heel pain commonly called Severs Disease (calcaneal apophysitis) is a condition that affects the heels of active kids. It’s actually not a disease, but condition affecting the growth plate in the heel. When athletes perform repetitive dynamic activities of running and jumping, the Achilles continues to pull on that growth plate, creating irritation and pain. Discomfort is noted with activities and generally alleviated with rest.  Recommendations for treatment can include, rest, ice, activity modification, heel lifts, gentle stretching and possible immobilization.

Osgood Schlatter Disease

Ages 12 14

Osgood – Schlatter disease can often feel like severe knee pain.  As a growing body gets stronger, the developing leg muscles (quadriceps), pull on the growth plate, located a couple of centimeters below the knee cap. This pulling may result in increased knee pain and possibly swelling if left untreated.  Running, jumping and bending activities exacerbate symptoms. Recommendations for treatment can include, rest, ice, activity modifications, anti inflammatory medications, knee strap (such as the Cho-Pat brand) and possibly immobilization.

Sinding Larson Johansson Syndrome

Early Teens

Sinding – Larson – Johansson syndrome, another knee issue, is most common in the adolescent years.  While it might seem similar to Osgood – Schlatter disease, Sinding – Larson – Johansson syndrome affects the base of the patella.  It may result from an overuse injury when a repetitive traction force on the knee cap creates swelling and pain. The pain can become worse during activity, and the bottom of the knee cap may become very tender to touch. Ice, rest and antinflammatories medication are appropriate first line treatments.

These age ranges are not absolute, and symptoms can affect athletes at different times. Early recognition is important, as is appropriate intervention and medical advice is always recommended.

Andy Hylton (PA-C) is a physician assistant with OrthoCarolina Pineville and is a former professional soccer player. 

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