What Is Youth Sports Medicine?
Today’s youth, more so than ever, are under a lot of stress to perform well in athletics. Due to this, young athletes are experiencing what medical professionals have labeled “overuse injuries.” These injuries occur when an athlete repeatedly uses the same motion, as is the case with pitchers in baseball, or experience general wear and tear from continuously over exerting themselves in sports. Youth sports medicine is rapidly developing as young athletes are in need of physicians capable of getting them back into playing shape.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, young players are increasingly damaging their Ulnar Collateral Ligaments (UCL) in the elbow. A UCL tear is just one of many overuse injuries surgeons will typically see in the elbow. In order to correct this injury, these athletes are undergoing Tommy John surgery in order to reconstruct the ligaments. The surgery requires doctors to rebuild the UCL with a tendon from another part of the body.
Dr. James Andrews, noted surgeon for several major professional sports teams, is suggesting that young athletes should play sports less in order to remain healthier. While research shows that there is a five to sevenfold increase in injury rates in youth sports across the board, not many people are discussing the non-surgical alternatives to youth sports medicine. Surgery has been proven to be inconsistent in treating the initial injury and has the potential to leave the patients worse off than they were prior to the initial treatment. When it is possible, patients should opt for a non-invasive alternative.
Why Choose Non-Surgical Methods for Youth Sports Medicine?
While adults who elect to have surgery face multiple risks of their own, surgery on young athletes with open growth plates poses some challenges. There is the possibility that surgery could stunt the growth of adolescence with open growth plates. ACL reconstruction, for example, runs the high risk of damaging these growth plates and harming the potential for growth.
Growth plates are essentially areas of cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones that are still developing. These plates regulate and help determine the shape and length of once the bone matures. When a child becomes fully-grown, these plates harden into solid bone. ACL surgery commonly consists of a surgeon creating tunnels across the two main growth plates near the upper tibia and lower femur. These tunnels create risk of damaging the growth plates and the potential for them to fully mature.
Regenerative treatments like Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy (PRP) and Bone Marrow Concentrate Therapy (BMC), are being adopted by many sports medicine specialists as an alternative to invasive surgery. These treatments both utilize the patient’s own blood to heal an injury. Blood is first extracted from the patient, placed in a centrifuge to separate various blood layers (red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma), followed by the doctor injecting the patient’s blood into the site of injury. These forms of regenerative medicine are proven non-surgical alternatives for a variety of conditions.
Who Should Try Regenerative Treatments?
Regenerative therapy can be used to help treat young athletes suffering from a variety of conditions. Our medical team at Metropolitan Pain Consultants treat the following conditions:
- ACL Tear
- Knee Pain
- Hip Pain
- Neck Pain
- Shoulder Pain
- Back Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Upper Back Pain
The aforementioned pain conditions are quite common in non-athletes, but they are more so in those who continuously push their bodies to the limit. Thankfully, all of those conditions can also be relieved by either PRP or BMC injections.
If you are interested in pursuing non-surgical alternatives, please contact us at 201-729-0001 for an evaluation of your injury and what treatments may be right for you or your child. Our conveniently located clinics can be found in West Orange, Aberdeen, Lyndhurst, and Fort Lee. We offer weekday and weekend appointments.