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Overuse Injuries

January 29, 2024 Staff

Overuse injuries in children are increasingly common, especially among those who participate in sports and physical activities. These injuries occur when repetitive stress on tendons, bones, and joints outpaces the body's ability to repair and recover. Unlike acute injuries that happen suddenly, overuse injuries develop over time due to repetitive micro-trauma to the tissues without adequate rest.

Common Overuse Injuries in Children

Some common overuse injuries in children include:

  • Sever's Disease (Calcaneal Apophysitis): A heel pain syndrome resulting from inflammation of the growth plate in the heel. It commonly affects children who are active in sports that involve running and jumping.

  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease: Characterized by knee pain and swelling just below the kneecap, where the tendon from the kneecap attaches to the shin. It's often seen in adolescents experiencing growth spurts who play sports that involve running, jumping, or swift changes in direction.

  • Little League Elbow: An injury to the elbow growth plates, seen in young baseball pitchers or those engaging in activities requiring repetitive elbow use.

  • Sinding-Larsen-Johansson Disease: Similar to Osgood-Schlatter disease but affects the bottom of the kneecap.

  • Stress fractures: Small cracks in a bone that develop from continuous overuse, such as excessive running or jumping.


The primary cause of overuse injuries is the repetitive and persistent stress on the body's tissues without enough time for healing. Factors contributing to these injuries include:

  • Intensive training in a single sport without adequate rest.

  • Year-round training with no off-season.

  • Specialization in one sport at an early age.

  • Imbalance in muscle strength and flexibility.

  • Improper technique or equipment.


Symptoms of overuse injuries can vary depending on the injury but generally include:

  • Pain with activity that improves with rest.

  • Swelling or tenderness at the site of the injury.

  • Reduced performance in sports.

  • Changes in form or technique due to pain.


Diagnosis involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and sometimes imaging tests like X-rays or MRI to assess the extent of the injury and rule out other conditions.


Treatment strategies focus on relieving pain and allowing the injured area to heal properly. This may include:

  • Rest and avoiding activities that cause pain.

  • Ice to reduce swelling and pain.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain relief.

  • Physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility.

  • Gradual return to activity with modifications as needed.


Preventing overuse injuries in children involves:

  • Encouraging participation in multiple sports to ensure varied physical development and rest for specific muscle groups.

  • Ensuring proper technique and use of appropriate sports equipment.

  • Implementing adequate warm-up and cool-down routines.

  • Emphasizing the importance of rest and recovery.

  • Educating parents, coaches, and young athletes about the signs of overuse injuries and the importance of reporting and addressing pain or discomfort early.

By recognizing the signs of overuse injuries and implementing preventive measures, children can enjoy sports and physical activities while minimizing the risk of injury.

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