Child Orthopedics


Frequently Asked Questions

My 13-year old daughter hurt her knee during a soccer tournament last weekend. The coach put her in a knee immobilizer and sent her to the emergency room. They suggested she see an orthopedic surgeon this week. We couldn't get in to see anyone for two weeks. Will this hurt her chances for a full recovery?

Injuries in young athletes are becoming more common now. The increased participation of so many children in sports of all kinds has posed some unique problems.

What we are finding is that a delay in diagnosis and treatment isn't always a bad thing. Many times conservative care is advised until a proper diagnosis can be made. Knee injuries range from ligament rupture to meniscal tear to fracture.

And in the young athlete, injury can occur to the growth plate. The growth plate is a fibrocartilage cap at the end of the bone. It allows the bone to continue to grow while protecting the ends.

It may be best to wait to repair ruptured ligaments until bone growth is complete. In the case of an anterior cruciate ligement (ACL) tear in the knee, tunnels are drilled through the bone as part of the reconstruction surgery. Surgeons try to avoid drilling through the growth plate. The operation is put off until about one month after growth is complete.

The downside of this for the active athlete is that sports participation must be limited. A conditioning program can be allowed but competitive play and practice is not. In the big picture, the goal is to preserve joint function and stability.

Losing a season to recovery and rehab is disappointing but necessary for full recovery. With the right treatment, many patients return to full sports play at a level equal to their pre-injury status.

Aaron K. Schachter, MD, and Andrew S. Rokito, MD. ACL Injuries in the Skeletally Immature Patient. In Orthopedics. May 2007. Vol. 30. No. 5. pp. 365-372.

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