Next Steps For Sports Injuries

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 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. 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

Fast Facts: An Easy-to-Read Series of Publications for the Public

Suspect a Concussion? What You Need to Know

Sports injuries & concussion care

Recent Updates

Can Brain Games Keep Your Mind Young?

APR 29, 2021

Most of us have heard about the billion-dollar “brain games” industry that provides mental challenges to improve cognitive ability. But does this brain training really work? Recent studies have shown an improvement in different cognitive domains afte

Read More Additional information about Can Brain Games Keep Your Mind Young?

What To Know About Practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation

APR 09, 2021

Set aside time to get comfortable and practice sending compassion to yourself and others. Learn more about loving-kindness meditation with a free guide.

Read More Additional information about What To Know About Practicing Loving-Kindness Meditation

A Beginner's Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels

MAR 21, 2021

Mar 22, 2021 Nutrition labels are great; they help you figure out the ingredients and nutritional composition of a food product. Sometimes, though, they can be a bit deceitful. That snack may look healthy with only 6% of your daily saturated fat

Read More Additional information about A Beginner's Guide to Reading Nutrition Labels | St. Joseph Health

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.

Learn the Stroke Facts