Sometimes, coaches go too far in encouraging athletes to push beyond discomfort so they can achieve greater objectives. Growth is always uncomfortable, but that is certainly different than the pain that accompanies an injury. Children often do not want to disclose injuries when they receive messages like:
“Walk it off.”
“Just rub some dirt on it.”
Whereas most coaches—the responsible ones, at least—want your child to be his or her best, they should also want your child to be safe and healthy. Of course, when a coach is responsible for an entire team, it’s possible for an injury to go unnoticed. As such, it’s important that you, as a parent, know how to keep your eye out for common kids’ sports injuries.
Another reason for this is the simple fact that sometimes children aren’t open about injury is because they want to keep playing. This could either be a matter of loving the sport and not wanting to head to the sideline or the fear of becoming “Wally Pipped” (which basically means “to lose a spot in the starting lineup and never get it back”). Either way, one of the responsibilities of being a parent is to protect your child, and one of our responsibilities is making sure you know which foot and ankle sports injuries you are most likely to see so you can protect them.
Now, some injuries are more obvious than others. These are often acute injuries that are caused by physical trauma. An example is if your daughter misjudges the groundball hit to her during a softball game and it hits her foot, breaking a toe bone. That’s fairly obvious. Less obvious is something like Sever’s disease.
Sever’s disease—which is somewhat inappropriately-named—is the most common source of heel pain for kids. The name is misleading because it’s not actually a disease. Rather, Sever’s can be thought of as a growing pain, one that happens when the heel bone grows more quickly than the Achilles tendon.
Your child might have Sever’s if he or she is roughly between the ages of 8-15 and experiences pain in the back of the heel (where the Achilles tendon connects to the heel bone). Pain tends to be particularly prevalent following physical activity. The good news with this condition is that your child will eventually outgrow it. In the meantime, treatment is centered on addressing symptoms (as opposed to “correcting” it).
Going back to our original premise that kids sometimes (perhaps often, even) will “hide” injuries, how do you know if your child has a foot or ankle sports injury?
One of the biggest indicators of a problem is withdrawal from activities he or she previously found to be enjoyable. Another, and especially for younger children, is suddenly stopping in the middle of a game to sit down. This is something that can be seen when watching youth soccer. Typically, there is a gaggle of players packed around the soccer ball as it moves back and forth on the field. If your son drops out of the scrum and sits on the ground, it’s quite possible his feet are in pain.
Of course, the very best way to find out if your child has sustained a common foot or ankle injury—or to receive expert care for a known case—is to bring your son or daughter to see us here at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists. We provide accurate diagnoses and exceptional treatment for all lower limb conditions, so give us a call at (512) 328-8900 and we’ll be glad to help.