Kids and common sports injuries


“One of the most common sports injuries I see every week is pain in an extremity from chronic repetitive stress, whether it is at the elbow, the wrist, the ankle, the knee or the foot,” says Dr. Schlechter. “Those are definitely the most common sports-related injuries in children that are less traumatic and nonoperative, most of the time. They can be prevented by activity modification, rest, ice, anti-inflammatories and a good stretching program,” he recommends.


A general rule of thumb to reduce injury, says Dr. Schlechter, is for children to not play one sport year-round. They should engage in multiple sports. “For instance, if your child is a baseball player, they should probably cross-train and participate in maybe football, track, and basketball instead of baseball year-round, with a three-month period of rest. That’s a good preventative strategy,” he suggests. Another  piece of advice: Don’t play through pain.


“In general, most musculoskeletal injuries, for them to be fully healed, can take 12 to 16 weeks. Most children  start feeling better after resting two  to four weeks. They tend to go back  to sports too soon. Definitely take the  full time to recover,” he says.


“Every football season and the start of soccer season, I’ll see a flurry of patients with foot and ankle pain and those are usually growth plate-related conditions, stress injuries to the bone of the feet,” he says. Dr. Schlechter suggests saving the cleats for game situations only, not every day conditioning.


  • The number of minutes you should apply ice to an injury: 15 to 20 minutes
  • The number of childhood sports injuries in the U.S. each year: 3.5 million
  • The amount of time children should rest between sports activities: 3 months

View the full feature on Kids and Common Sports Injuries

Dr. John Schlecter
Dr. John A. Schlechter
CHOC Orthopedic Surgeon


Dr. Schlechter completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Riverside County Regional Medical Center, where he is the director of orthopedic education and research. He completed a pediatric orthopedic and scoliosis fellowship at Rady’s Children’s Hospital San Diego as well as a post-fellowship preceptorship in sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Orthopedic Specialty Institute in Orange, CA.

Dr. Schlechter’s philosophy of care: “I try to treat the child and not the parent, and make sure the athletes understand their conditions and the rationale of why they might need to have some rest and what  the potential unwanted outcomes could be if they don’t get rest.”

New York College of Osteopathic Medicine

Orthopedic Surgery

More about Dr. Schlechter | More about the CHOC Orthopaedic Institute

This article was featured in the Orange County Register on November 19, 2013 and was written by Shaleek Wilson.

Taking Care of Your Child’s Cast

Broken bones, or fractures, are a common childhood hazard, particularly for kids in sports.  While it can happen in a split second, a broken bone takes time to heal and may often require a cast.  The experts at the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute understand that kids with casts – and their parents – have lots of questions.  Dr. John Schlechter, CHOC orthopeadic surgeon, recently sat down to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions he and his colleagues receive.

Q: What material is a cast made of, and what does the cast do?
A: There are two types of cast – one made of hard plaster and the other a fiberglass shell.  Both work to prevent movement of the broken or fractured bone, and allow proper healing to occur.  The amount of time a cast has to remain on a child depends on the type of injury.

Q: Can my child take a bath or shower with her cast on?
A: Unless a child is wearing a special waterproof cast, she should not get her cast wet. This is best avoided by taking a sponge bath, while still covering the cast with several layers of a towel or plastic bags. In the event a cast gets wet, dry it with a hair dryer on the cool setting.

Q:  How do I can get my child a waterproof cast?
A: Not all fractures are suitable for a waterproof cast. If a child can have a waterproof cast, his parent must request it.  These special casts, which can be completely submerged in fresh water, are available at additional costs and not typically covered by insurance.

Q: Do I need to elevate my child’s arm?
A: Elevating the affected limb for the first 24 hours significantly reduces the natural swelling that occurs after an injury.  Place the injured limb above the level of the child’s heart (the “high five” position for arm injuries), using pillows as support.  Moving fingers or toes on the affected limb may also assist in swelling.

Q: What can be done to alleviate itching under the cast?
A:  Tapping on the cast or blowing cool air inside the cast with a hair dryer can help alleviate itching.  Under no circumstances should an object be placed under the cast to scratch.  This may cause injury or infection.  If the itching becomes severe or persistent, speak to the child’s physician.

Q: How do I know if my child’s cast is too tight or too loose?
A: The most common symptoms of a cast that is too tight are:
• Numbness, tingling
• Increased pain
• Change in skin color compared to the unaffected limb (pale or blue, by comparison)
• New swelling of the fingers or toes

Keep in mind that swelling is expected in the first 24-72 hours, which may make the cast feel tight.  Elevating the injured limb should help reduce the swelling.  Once the swelling subsides, the case may then feel loose.  As long as the child cannot move the limb under the cast or take the cast off, he is fine.

Q: Is it normal for my child’s cast to smell?
A: Unfortunately, cast odor is normal since the affected limb cannot be bathed.  Never apply powder or perfume on or inside the cast.

Q. Can my child resume normal activities?
A: Children should enjoy being kids, and there should be no restrictions to activities of daily living.  However, they should avoid activities that can damage the cast, including getting it wet, or re-injure the limb.  This may include swimming, bicycle riding, skate boarding, contact sports, etc.

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Kinesio Tape – More than Just a Summer Olympics Fashion Statement?

Along with their work-out attire, this year’s Olympic athletes have been sporting colorful tape.  Spectators have seen the images – strips in various shades running up, down and across the bodies of athletes. Curious to learn if this trend was more than a fashion statement, we asked one of our pediatric orthopedic surgeons, Dr. John Schlechter, who specializes in sports medicine, a few questions.

What’s the deal with that colorful tape we’re seeing on this year’s Olympic athletes?

That colorful tape is called Kinesio tape, and has actually been to the Olympics before.  Beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings, who just won her third gold medal, wore a colorful mesh pattern on her operated shoulder when she competed in Beijing four years ago. Now, during the London games, many athletes, especially divers, swimmers and volleyball players, have been seen with the tape.

Who developed it?

Dr. Kenzo Kase, a Japanese chiropractor, invented the method about 30 years ago when he started taping Sumo wrestlers to relieve their pain.

What is it used for?

Kinesio tape can be used for many reasons.  In some cases, it helps to relieve pain and inflammation. But more often in the Olympics, it is used to help stabilize injured joints or help to unload injured and aching muscles. The tape gives the athlete support for aching muscles that might hamper performance.

How is it different from other athletic tape?

Regular athletic tape is rigid and does not move with the athlete. It’s better used when you need to stop motion. Kinesio tape, on the other hand, stretches in one direction and then as it’s stretched, it snaps back like a rubber band.  That’s how it is used to help the muscles and joints, and why it’s also popular with athletes.  It allows the athlete to move with less pain.

Is there a special technique for applying the tape?

There is a special technique for applying the tape.  It’s best to learn from an athletic trainer or physical therapist.

Where can people get the tape?

Most sporting goods stores carry various kinesio tape options.

Dr. John Schlechter is a board certified pediatric orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine and arthroscopy for children and adolescents. He is an active part of the clinical faculty for the Western University of Health Sciences and serves as the team physician for several local high schools. Learn more about CHOC’s Orthopaedic Institute.

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CHOC Sports Medicine Program Opens Irvine Office

With year-round sports participation and an intense competitive environment, Orange County’s young athletes are at greater risk for injury, particularly overuse syndrome.

Comprehensive sports physical therapy services are now available much closer to home for South Orange County athletes. The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program has opened a new office in Irvine to provide sports medicine physical therapy for school-age children and precollegiate teens.

“We are addressing the many issues associated with competitive youth sports, including preseason screening for injury prevention, nutrition, sports psychology and physical rehabilitation,” says CHOC Children’s pediatric orthopaedic surgeon John Schlechter, D.O. “Our goal is to work in conjunction with primary care physicians in order to provide the best care for athletes.”

The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program, the only one of its kind in Orange County, is supported by CHOC cardiologists, pulmonologists, allergists, neurologists and neurosurgeons.

To learn more about the services available through the CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program in Orange and Irvine, please call 714-289-4054 or click here:

The CHOC Children’s Sports Medicine Program Irvine office is located at 980 Roosevelt, Suite 100.

Keep Your Little Athletes Safe

Did you know April is Youth Sports Safety Month? The national campaign focuses public attention on the prevalent problem of high injury rates in youth sports and promotes safety in sports participation.

While sports injuries are common, making sure your child is prepared can help prevent some of the most common ones. Football is the one CHOC Children’s sees the most injuries from, according to John Schlechter, D.O., a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon at CHOC.  The most common injuries we see are strains, sprains, bumps and simple bone fractures, he says.

He and the team of doctors at the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute also treat more serious injuries, such as shoulder dislocation, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and concussions.

Many of these injuries are from overuse and overtraining, so it’s important for parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of overtraining, Dr. Schlechter explains. These symptoms include:

  • Poor performance
  • Not meeting training goals
  • Not wanting to practice
  • Getting tired easily
  • Being irritable or not wanting to cooperate

Playing a sport more than 20 hours a week can increase the risk for injury. Dr. Schlechter also stresses the importance of wearing protective gear and drinking plenty of fluids when playing sports. But above all, parents should listen to their children. If your child feels too tired, hurt or ill to play, let him or her sit on the sidelines, Dr. Schlechter says.

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