The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Ask a NYC Sports Medicine Doctor: How to Nurse Your Injured Child Athlete Back to Health

Posted by on Wednesday, January 27th, 2016


Parents want their kids to grow up healthy, strong, confident, and sociable. Sports activities help in all these aspects, but they also put children at increased risk of getting hurt. Over 2.6 million kids visit emergency rooms for sports-related injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC, the majority of youth sports injuries we see are run-of-the-mill sprains and strains. We’re always glad parents take the time to bring their kids in for evaluation, even if they suspect it’s nothing serious. Sometimes an injury with mild early symptoms can turn out to be a growth plate injury requiring more aggressive treatment or surgery to prevent future issues.

youth sports injuries
Sprains and strains may result from cleat use, overuse, training errors, or other causes. A NYC sports medicine doctor will help you get to the root of the problem. Image Source:

Here are some tips we give parents who are caring for youth sports injuries.

Caring for Sprains and Strains

  • Encourage your child to completely rest for at least 48 hours after the injury occurs.
  • Apply ice to the injured area in 20-minute increments throughout the day.
  • Use a special compression wrap to decrease swelling in the affected area.
  • Elevate the injured body part above the heart to promote circulation.
  • Anticipate a healing time of three to four weeks for this type of injury.
  • Have your child avoid hot showers or baths for the first two days to prevent additional swelling.
  • After three days, you can use hot compresses to maintain joint flexibility during healing.
  • To help prevent sprains and strains, kids should participate in more than one type of sport per year.
  • A child should not participate in a sports activity for more hours than his or her age each week.
  • Strength training exercises can take some of the workload off the injured body part in the future.

Caring for Growth Plate Injuries

  • Always get an x-ray to determine whether or not a cast or splint is required.
  • Sign up for physical therapy to ensure a safe return to activity and full range of motion.
  • Consider the benefits of surgery if a growth plate fracture is involved.
  • Elevate the injury and apply ice in 20-minute intervals for two days after the injury occurs.
  • Expect healing to take place anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on the location.

Caring for Youth Sports Injuries in NYC: Why Choose Us?

Often times, kids won’t report injuries to their parents because they don’t want to be taken out of the game or because they think it’s just a normal part of the game. It’s important for parents to keep an eye out for tell-tale signs of injury such as slower running or limping. Never worry that you’re “wasting our time” by bringing your child in for evaluation for a suspected injury.

Most parents instinctively take their children to the emergency room or family doctor for treatment of a sports injury. So you may be wondering, “Why should I see a specialist for my child’s foot or ankle injury?” Sports medicine doctors have a lot more to offer than run-of-the-mill care. A NYC sports medicine doctor will help you get to the root of the problem, rather than just addressing the symptoms as a primary physician might.

At our offices, we not only have all the x-ray, MRI, and CT scan equipment necessary to gather an accurate diagnosis, but we also offer more in-depth testing such as pressure load and gait analysis, which can be predictive of injuries before they occur and also reveal the progress of healing. Long-term physical therapy may be recommended to ensure treatment success and prevent re-injury.

Our goal is not to simply write a script for pain, slap on a cast, and send you on your merry way. With foot and ankle specialists, we spend more time sharing our expertise with patients and their families. We look at the whole picture to determine the factors that contributed to the injury — be it shoe choice, sports equipment, running surface, pressure to overexert, strength imbalances, genetics, form, or another cause. Our experienced trainers and physical therapists can help your young athlete hone important skills and learn to move in ways that increase range of motion, strength, and endurance.

We offer a wide range of treatment options, including the latest scientific advances within sports medicine, including laser, ultrasound, cryotherapy, injection therapy, hyperbaric oxygen, and platelet rich plasma. Our NYC ankle and foot doctors never rush into surgery, but we do have several board-certified podiatric surgeons with decades of experience in our office if the need arises.

Do not hesitate to contact our offices in Manhattan or Westchester with any questions or concerns you have about your child’s sports injury.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.