Tips to Prevent Common Sports Injuries for Female Athletes

Do you have a young female athlete at home? Check out this segment from American Health Journal, where Dr. John Schlechter, orthopaedic surgeon at CHOC Children’s, discusses how to prevent sports injuries for female athletes.

Learn more about the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, ranked among the best in the nation.

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Sprained Ankle, When to Call the Pediatrician

I think my child has sprained her ankle. How can I tell when to call the pediatrician? – A common question for many parents. Did you know that the ankle is the most commonly sprained joint, followed by the knee and wrist? This may seem like an innocent injury, but in some cases, the symptoms, which can include swelling, inability to walk or bear weight – ouch! –  can be quite painful and uncomfortable.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), sprains are injuries to the ligaments that connect bones to one another. A sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched excessively or torn. In a mild sprain, the ligament is overstretched. More severe sprains can involve partial tearing of the ligament, or complete tearing.

Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of sprains in young children include: pain; swelling around the joint; inability to walk, bear weight, or use the joint. Please note that the symptoms of a sprain may resemble those of a fracture or other conditions. Be sure to consult your child’s physician for a diagnosis.

When to call the Doc 
Make sure to call your child’s pediatrician if your child has a joint injury and has excessive swelling or pain. The pediatrician will examine your child, and your child may then undergo x-rays – to determine that it’s not a fracture or break; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); and/or other procedures. 

Specific treatment for a sprain will be determined by your child’s physician based on your child’s age, extent of injury, medical history, overall health, etc. Initial treatment may include R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation). Other treatment options may include: splint/cast, crutches/wheelchair, or physical therapy, among other options.

Most mild sprains will heal within two weeks without consecutive complications. Your child’s physician should be called any time a joint injury fails to heal or swelling recurs. Disregarding these signs could result in more severe damage and long-term disability.

For more information about sprains and strains, check out CHOC’s health library, or click here:

April is Sports Safety Month!

Like all fun-loving bears, I enjoy a good game of baseball during Springtime! Of course, we always need to play safe and avoid injuries. Did you know that with proper equipment and extra attention to stretching and conditioning, many injuries can be prevented? Dr. John Schlechter a specialist with the CHOC Children’s Orthopaedic Institute, sent me the following tips to share with parents to help keep children safe.

Head Injuries: To prevent severe head injury, the use of a helmet during batting is required. To ensure a proper fit, the circumference of your child’s head in centimeters should be measured and compared with the size listed on the helmet. Be sure the helmet fits your child’s head snugly. It should be level, with two fingers’ width of space between the eyebrow and helmet. Never purchase an oversized helmet in hopes your child will grow into it.

Playing Fields: Level playing fields free of debris and severe irregularities are essential to prevent falls and lower extremity injuries. Break away or detachable bases should be installed to prevent foot and ankle injuries.

Pitcher Position: The shoulder and elbow of a thrower/pitcher is at risk for an injury if insufficient stretching, warm-up or improper mechanics, and overuse occurs. Using proper technique and limiting pitch count and the type of pitch thrown can dramatically decrease the risk that your child could suffer from an injury. Thanks to the work performed at the American Sports Medicine Institute, guidelines for age- based pitch counts and pitch type have been developed and should be implemented and followed in your local league. For more information, visit