High School Sports Injuries

Every year, millions of teenagers participate in high school sports. Teenage athletes are injured at about the same rate as pro athletes. But, injuries that affect high school athletes are often different from those that affect adult athletes. Growth plate injuries and spondylolisthesis are two sports-related injuries affecting high school athletes.

Growth Plate Injuries

In children, there are areas of tissue near the end of long bones that continue to grow, even into adolescence. These areas, called growth plates, are injured more easily than soft tissues like tendons and ligaments.

A sports activity that causes a sprain in an adult could cause a more-serious injury in a high school athlete. Growth plate injuries happen most often in contact sports like football or basketball and in overuse sports like gymnastics or baseball.

Stress Fractures of the Spine (Spondylolisthesis)

In this drawing of the lower part of the spine, a fracture (break) in the vertebral bone (red arrow) causes the vertebra to slip out of place (blue arrow). This can cause pain from the lower back through the thighs.
Young athletes who overstretch the spine in sports like gymnastics, weight lifting, or football can develop a stress fracture on one or both sides of the bones that make up the spine (vertebra).

A stress fracture that causes the vertebra to slip out of place is called spondylolisthesis. Symptoms include spasms in the hamstring muscles and the inability to bend forward.

Prompt Medical Attention

All sports injuries and complaints from young athletes should be assessed by a physician.

It is important not to pressure the athlete to work through the pain. This is because untreated injuries can lead to permanent damage or may lead to later disease.

It is important that a child's injury has completely healed before they are allowed to return to their sports activity. Even if the child's injury has healed, it is possible that there may be a psychological or emotional reason for the child not wanting to return to sports activity. This possibility should be investigated before the child returns to play.

for additional info on Keep Injured High School Athletes Out of Game
Last reviewed: August 2007
Copyright 2007 American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons