Common Childhood Sports Injuries and How Touchstone Imaging Can Help

December 17, 2019 – 6 min read

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image of school-aged boy laying on exam table with legs bent at 90 degrees and feet up against a sability ball. a man's hands are resting on the boys feet.

Remember the magic feeling of being young and free, running and playing all day without getting winded? As children grow and develop, their bodies are growing and changing too. When kids engage in competitive sports where conditioning, training, practice, and competition are the main ingredients, there is always a risk for injury. Don’t get us wrong, we are in no way saying that sports are unsafe or that your kid shouldn’t participate because of the risk of injury. Quite the opposite, really. Exercise is what keeps us young, healthy, and pain-free much longer in life and competition is the spice and fuels our souls.

Join us in today’s post as we review the most common pediatric sports injuries and how medical imaging can help diagnose them and develop a treatment plan to successfully recover and even strengthen the area that was injured.

At Touchstone Imaging centers, we offer pediatric medical imaging services around the United States. Each of our clinics is equipped with state-of-the-art machines and technology that produce high-quality images to aid in your child’s successful treatment.

Ankle Sprain

The ankle is the most commonly injured joint in any age of a person and is a very common joint to injure in youth. Ankle sprains can happen during daily routine activities or during competitive sports. Most commonly, ankle injuries occur with the foot rolls inward and the bodyweight is placed on the side of the foot or ankle, causing the muscles and ligaments of the ankle to be stretched much further than they are intended to. Ankle sprains caused by “rolling” an ankle are common in sports that require running, pivoting, turning, jumping, or causes falls.

More often than not, the diagnosis and treatment of an ankle injury will begin with a series of x-rays. X-rays help to identify or rule out a fracture or dislocation. When your child has x-rays taken of the ankle, it will also show the joint spacing and identify any bone spurs that are present. If all of the structures look normal on an x-ray but pain and swelling persist, your child may then be referred for an MRI. An MRI can see the details of soft tissue as well as that of cartilage and bone. This helps better identify muscle strains and ligament sprains.

At Touchstone Imaging, we can handle all of your child’s medical imaging needs, including x-ray and MRI. Our experienced technologists can quickly and efficiently capture all of the high-quality images your doctor will need to identify your sports injury and build an effective treatment plan, all without causing further injury to your child’s ankle.

Knee Pain & ACL Tears

Because of the wide range of motion that knees allow and the amount of weight they are meant to support, it should come as no surprise that knee injuries are quite common. If your kids are normal, active children, chances are that there hasn’t been a day since they learned how to crawl that there hasn’t been a scratch, abrasion, or bruise on your kids’ knee. Knees can be injured when they are rotated or bent the wrong way or too far, or by simple overuse. Knee injuries can happen in falls or when repetitive motions are made.

When your child visits their provider with a knee injury, his or her provider will likely order some form of medical imaging to help diagnose the problem. With a thorough physical exam, they may order an x-ray or move right to an MRI. Because most knee injuries involve the soft tissues of the knee, many doctors order an MRI to investigate the root cause including ligament stretches or tears, dislocations, or tendon inflammation.

At Touchstone Imaging, we offer MRIs for the legs of patients of all ages. To make you and your child more comfortable, you are even allowed to escort your child through the entire exam process, assuming you pass the pre-screening safety checklist. Our efficient technologists and quick radiologists can get your pediatrician high-quality images and interpretations within a day or two. That way you and your child can move forward with a treatment plan that won’t inhibit healthy growth and development of your kid’s leg.

Elbow Injuries

Children are prone to injuries that older adolescents and adults are not, due to their looser ligaments and changing growth plates. Elbow dislocations are common in younger kids — toddler to age 5 — and can occur by sudden pulls on the child’s arm, falls, or twists beyond the normal rotation. Simple dislocations are relatively easy to correct with a manual external procedure to re-seat the bones correctly in the joint. Small children tend to fall a lot, and when they do, they often fall forward and catch themselves on their hands. This can cause quite a bit of upward force through the wrists and elbows. Little league elbow is an overuse injury that is caused by repetitive motion, usually throwing.

To learn exactly the cause of your child’s elbow pain or disfigurement, your pediatrician will probably refer your child for an x-ray or series of x-rays. An x-ray will easily identify a dislocation or a fracture of any one of the arm bones. Fractures in the heads of any of the bones are fairly common — radius, ulna, and humerus. The x-rays can identify growth plates, bone spurs, or any other bone abnormalities.

At Touchstone Imaging centers, each of our locations offers x-ray services for pediatric and adult populations. Because our x-ray images are high-quality and our radiologists offer quick interpretations of them, your provider will have answers quickly and be able to provide quick and efficient treatment to your child.

Shoulder Injury

Shoulder injuries are common in children and adolescents, especially those who engage in sports that involve overhead motions — swimming, volleyball, basketball, or baseball. Because children and adolescents are still growing, the growth plates can be damaged or fractured when they fall or are contacted. Overuse is one of the most common ways that children’s shoulders are injured. This is common in throwing sports or swimming where the same movements are made in extreme wide-range movements.

When shoulder pain limits movements, you may bring your child to their pediatrician or an orthopedic doctor. The first thing that will be done is a full physical assessment with range of motion tests. Your child’s provider may refer your child for an x-ray to assess the growth plates and bones of the joint. Your child’s doctor may also refer your child for an MRI to assess the soft tissues — tendons, ligaments, and muscles.

At Touchstone Imaging, we offer x-ray and MRI for young children, adolescents, and adults to help identify bone or soft tissue injuries. If you or your child are referred for a diagnostic imaging procedure to include x-ray, CT scan, ultrasound, or MRI, visit us online to find a location near you, and contact us to schedule your appointment.