As autumn approaches, children are trickling back into their fall athletic endeavors. It seems like a lifetime ago that the soccer, baseball, and football fields were teeming with brightly colored uniforms and flying objects. Amidst the changes of social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-sanitizing there is one aspect that hasn’t changed: injuries. I recently talked to the parent of a young soccer athlete who asked the age-old question: How do I know if my child needs to see a doctor?
I grew up with the 1-week rule for seeing a doctor unless the bone was sticking out or the bleeding couldn’t be stopped. Though circumstances exist where this is appropriate, some situations are handled better with a more urgent timeline than one week despite a lack of blood or exposed bone. Some significant injuries are more subtle and early intervention can get your athlete back to normal activities sooner.
If you ever find yourself sitting on the sideline with your injured child trying to decide if you should pay OAW a visit, here are some signs and symptoms to assess.
- Does the injured area appear deformed in some way? Again, it may be subtle to the untrained eye, but try comparing the area to the other limb to see if any noticeable differences are present.
- Is the area swollen? Swelling is the body’s inflammatory response to injury kicking into gear.
- Is your child complaining of sharp pain in one particular spot? Point tenderness is a common sign of fracture.
- Are you noticing that your child is modifying his/her actions to protect the injured site? This particular sign is helpful for younger children who can’t always verbalize their discomfort or describe what they feel.
If any of these signs or symptoms are present (especially when there are multiple), a trip to your favorite orthopaedic office for evaluation is more than justified. Our physicians will evaluate your child (x-ray if necessary) and determine the most effective course of treatment for healing their injury and getting them back to regularly scheduled activity. Alternatively, if rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE) with over-the-counter medications as needed quickly alleviate your child’s symptoms and you are not noticing those previously mentioned red flags, continued observation at home is a reasonable course of action.
We’ve heard so many parents utter the words, “We didn’t want to bother the doctor if it was nothing.” The reality is that you cannot know for sure that it is indeed nothing unless you reach out. And let me assure you, the physicians at Orthopaedic Associates of Wisconsin never consider it a bother to care for a patient. One of the best parts of the job is providing the reassuring news that no significant injury exists and participation can continue.
If your child is injured and you want to connect with us at OAW, feel free to call and schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists or walk in to our Ortho ASAP clinic at our Pewaukee office!
OAW Ortho ASAP Clinic Hours (until further notice):