Sports-related overuse injuries in children.

Increased intensity of sports activities in combination with a decrease in daily physical activity is leading to greater frequency of overuse injuries in children. These injuries are located mainly in the epiphyseal cartilage. The broad term for these injuries is osteochondrosis, rather than osteochondritis, which more specifically refers to inflammatory conditions of bone and cartilage. The osteochondrosis may be epiphyseal, physeal, or apophyseal, depending on the affected site. The condition can either be in the primary deformans form or the dissecans form. While there is no consensus on the etiology of osteochondrosis, multiple factors seem to be involved: vascular, traumatic, or even microtraumatic factors. Most overuse injuries involve the lower limbs, especially the knees, ankle and feet. The most typical are Osgood-Schlatter disease and Sever’s disease; in both conditions, the tendons remain relatively short during the pubescent grown spurt. The main treatment for these injuries is temporary suspension of athletic activities, combined with physical therapy in many cases. Surgery may be performed if conservative treatment proves ineffective. It is best, however, to try to prevent these injuries by analyzing and correcting problems with sports equipment, lifestyle habits, training intensity and the child’s level of physical activity, and by avoiding premature specialization. Pain in children during sports should not be considered normal. It is a warning sign of overtraining, which may require that the activity be modified, decreased or even ceased altogether.