Adolescence is defined as the second decade of life and represents a period of significant physical, psychological and cognitive development. During puberty, adolescents undergo marked growth and significant musculoskeletal and physiological development.
Girls begin their pubertal growth spurt around 9 years of age and boys at 11 years of age. In total, females and males will grow ~25cm and ~28cm respectively, during this pubertal growth spurt.
In addition to overall height changes, they will also experience rapid increases in long bone length and in overall limb mass. With longer and heavier limbs to control, it’s no wonder that there is also a temporary decline in coordination and neuromuscular control during this period!
These changes related to rapid growth and bony changes can cause a range of injuries unique to the adolescent group including:
A small chip of bone is pulled off by a relatively stronger muscle during a sudden, forceful muscle contraction during sports or activity. These injuries are often managed conservatively and respond well to physiotherapy, strengthening exercises and a gradual return to sport.
The apophysis describes the part of a bone where major tendons and ligaments attach. Apophysitis is an irritation and inflammation of this bony attachment point and is most often an overuse injury, with the adolescent completing high training loads or repetitive movements in their sport. Common sites for apophysitis are the knee (oschgood schlatters), heel (severs disease) and at multiple locations around the hip.
Osteochondritis dissecans is a joint disorder, where break-down of bone and the overlying cartilage occurs. This damage can cause small pieces of bone to separate and create pain and swelling in the joint. The exact cause of this disorder is not known, but it is thought that repetitive stress or small traumas during sporting activities may affect blood supply to the bone thus creating the bony damage.
Early diagnosis and treatment is key for better long-term outcomes. Many adolescents can be managed conservatively, with activity restriction and reduced loads through the affected joint (often with the use of braces and/or crutches). Sometimes surgery is required to help promote bony healing. After surgery, these adolescents will require physiotherapy rehabilitation to improve strength and mobility and a guided return to activities.
At Fit and Flow Physiotherapy our physiotherapists are experienced in assessing and managing these unique adolescent musculoskeletal injuries.
We will work closely with the adolescent athlete and “their team”, that is the other treating medical practitioners, team coaches and support staff and even school teachers, to ensure a coordinated approach to your adolescent’s management, which will see them back on the field/court sooner!
We will assess your adolescent for strength, flexibility, coordination and body awareness (proprioception)deficits that may have set them up for this injury. Allowing us to create an individualised management plan that will not only treat this current injury but also address deficits that could set them up for future injuries too!
If you have more questions about an Adolescent Injury, enter some more details in our Injury Form so we can get back to you!
Tell us more about your injury. Not sure whether physiotherapy can help wth your current injury or limitation? Fill out the questionnaire with some background information and we can contact you about your specific injury!