Parents: Be aware of the signs of sports injuries

Parents: Be aware of the signs of sports injuries

As fall approaches and student-athletes prepare to head back to the practice fields, injury prevalence is sure to be on the rise. Despite concerted efforts to minimize and/or prevent injuries, it is simply not possible to altogether eliminate them from sports. Additionally, to ensure that injuries are diagnosed and treated accurately, parents/guardians must play a crucial role in identifying signs of impending ailments that may not always be visible during training or competition, but which manifest days and weeks later, says Gopal T. Raghunath, PT MS, DPT, CSCS – owner/clinic director of Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation, P.C.

Whether it be a concern about playing time, or simply feeling that they can “tough it out,” student-athletes rarely admit when they’re hurt or injured, Dr. Raghunath points out. However, playing through the pain instead of obtaining timely treatment can indeed create further harm and hamper his/her season. Thus, parents/guardians who appreciate and value their child’s commitment to his/her sport should be clued into the obvious signs of an injury (swelling/pain/diminished function), which in turn will assist them in learning to distinguish between general posttraining/competition
soreness, from a specific condition, as Dr. Raghunath further asserts.

Signs of potential injury to watch for include:

  • Headaches, lightheadedness and/or dizziness – may indicate a concussion
  • Limping/difficulty standing or climbing/descending stairs – may indicate instability due to a ligament tear
  • Upper & Lower extremity tingling/numbness/weakness – may indicate nerve root irritation due to a disc herniation from spinal joint malalignment
  • Difficulty sleeping due to pain – may indicate tumor/neoplasm
  • Sudden sharp pain during training/competition/daily activities – may indicate a torn tendon or loose cartilage caught between joint surfaces


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 30 million children and adolescents in the U.S. participate in youth sports. Just the high school-aged students within this group alone account for nearly 2 million injuries and 500,000 doctor visits. Of those under the age of 14, 3.5 million receive medical treatment for a sports related injury.

“Thus, the ‘no pain no gain’ motto should have no place in any athlete’s vocabulary, as this practice can eventually end one’s athletic career,” says Dr. Raghunath. “If your child or teen is exhibiting any signs/symptoms as mentioned above, it’s important to encourage them to seek appropriate consultation as soon as possible.”

In many cases, visiting a physical therapist, following medical examination and diagnostic imaging, is a suitable starting point. Trained to conduct comprehensive sports injury evaluation and assessment, clinicians at Buffalo Grove Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation will triage the injury and, if necessary, provide appropriate treatment.