Although obesity, especially among sedentary children, is an increasing national health issue, doctors are also seeing a worrisome problem on the other end of the spectrum – too much athletic activity.

As young peoples’ participation in competitive sports soars, doctors are increasingly treating preventable athletic injuries that could have a lifelong impact if not properly treated. Untreated injuries in bones that have not yet fully formed could result in the incorrect growth of shoulders, elbows and knees.

“Sports injuries are becoming the most common reason young people are going to the emergency room,” said Jordan D. Metzl, M.D., medical director of the Sports Medicine Institute for Young Athletes at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS). Metzl, who has conducted studies on youth sports injuries, and other experts spoke recently at HSS’s “2nd Annual Sports Medicine for Coaches Fall Sports Safety Seminar.”

Coaches and parents should be aware of warning signs and find a balance for young athletes. “Sports will always be injury-laden, but statistically it is safer to play sports than to travel to a game by car,” said Metzl, himself an accomplished marathon runner and Ironman triathlete.

Coaches and parents should be alert to pain clues in young people that signal the need for a doctor visit where enhanced imaging technology may be used in the diagnosis. Other interventions include changing the young person’s competitive routine, adding strength training, improving nutrition and, as a last resort, undergoing surgical repair.

Metzl also said coaches and parents should be concerned about young athletes’ over-commitments in other areas of his or her life. Improved time management, Metzl added, can help create a healthier frame of mind, putting the young athlete’s life into a healthier balance and thereby helping to prevent an over-dose of sports.

MEDICA.de; Source: Hospital for Special Surgery