"We certainly think there’s an increase of overuse in children who play the same sport year round," said Dr. Green. "Some MLB scouts have noticed that children are less likely to make it to the majors if they are from a warm climate where they pitch year round. It seems that when the pitchers from northern areas make it to the majors, their elbows and shoulders hold up better."
Another problem doctors are seeing in the office is ACL injuries. High-end athletes -- especially in sports like soccer, lacrosse or football -- are susceptible to tearing their anterior cruciate ligament. "It has been proven that young athletes who participate in simple exercise programs to promote flexibility, build agility and strengthen the core develop skills and techniques that help reduce ACL tears," said Dr. Green. "A lot of athletes end up with an ACL tear because they try to compete too soon after recovering from an injury." If you suffer a lower-body injury, err on the side of caution and take your time before returning.
If a bone breaks or fractures, it's important to make sure the injury is avoided in the future, especially when dealing with wrist and arm injuries. "While these fractures might appear healed two months after the injury occurred, there’s still at least a five percent chance that the arm could re- break within two years," said Dr Green. The good news is that the most common wrist fracture is an injury to the distal radius -- near the wrist -- and rarely re-fractures. Many children are not getting enough vitamin D and calcium in their diets, both of which are important for bone health noted Dr. Green. "We have observed that many young athletes who experience a re-fracture also have low levels of vitamin D," he said.
Dr. Daniel Green is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Hospital for Special Surgery and director of the Pediatric Sports Program for the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery. He specializes in pediatric knee surgery, scoliosis and trauma. He practices at both the HSS Outpatient Center in Stamford and the hospital’s main campus in New York