Shoulder injuries are common in children and adolescents, particularly in children who are very active and participate in organized sports involving overhead activity such as baseball, volleyball and swimming.
Because we understand how an outstretched shoulder injury can also cause injury to the growth plates in a child, we have successful recoveries after shoulder procedures as opposed to those seen by an adult orthopedic physician who may not factor in growth plates.
Injuries that occur as a result of one particular traumatic episode are referred to as acute injuries. In skeletally immature children, acute injuries can occur at the area of growth in the bone, otherwise known as the growth plate. For example, growth plate fractures in the shoulder can occur when a child or adolescent falls on the shoulder or the outstretched hand. These fractures commonly involve the upper part of the humerus bone or the clavicle. The growth plate is more commonly injured in children because the growing cartilage/bone often is the weakest structure compared to the surrounding shoulder ligaments. Most growth plate fractures heal without complications, but these injuries often require special attention to avoid future problems with growth.
That is why it is critical to see a pediatric orthopedic physician, like those at Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists, who understands who to facture in growth plates when contemplating the right treatment. Other examples of acute injuries to the shoulder include a shoulder dislocation or a shoulder separation (AC Sprain). Either of these two injuries can occur with a blow to the shoulder or with a fall on the outstretched arm. Shoulder dislocations can result in a cartilage tear in the shoulder, otherwise known as a labrum tear.
Injuries that occur over time because of repetitive activity are known as overuse injuries. For example, chronic shoulder pain that occurs with throwing in baseball players may be related to overuse and inflammation around the growth plate in the upper part of the humerus bone. This injury is referred to as Little League Shoulder, or proximal humeral epiphysiolysis.
Overuse injuries can also occur in the soft tissues of the shoulder (tendons, ligaments, capsule, etc.) instead of in the growth plate. Depending on the symptoms, this injury may be referred to as rotator cuff tendonitis or impingement. Some young athletes suffer from recurrent shoulder instability that interferes with their ability to continue with their sport.
Pain and swelling present after an acute trauma indicate a musculoskeletal injury. The pain may be generalized to the area or be specific to one particular location. Severe pain, numbness, tingling, and restriction of motion may indicate more serious injury. Chronic (or overuse) injury may present more gradually, with more vague complaints of pain that is made worse with overhead activity. Overhead athletes may notice a decline in their performance due to the pain.
Shorter recovery times
“Hospital stays for my patients after surgery are shorter than most. I prepare the child for the surgery in advance. The preparation helps the children recover quicker after surgery, shortening their hospital stay. This is a win-win for the hospital and for the children and their families.” Shyam Kishan, MD
Consulting a pediatric orthopedic specialist is warranted when pain, swelling, and trouble using the arm persist despite home treatment such as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). If your child is unable to return to activities or sports, or if he has joint swelling, locking or instability, seeking professional assistance is essential. Consulting a pediatric orthopedic professional is especially important if your injured child is still growing. Injuries that occur near the growth plate can be challenging to recognize and appropriate treatment is necessary to ensure adequate management and healing.
Medical City Children’s Orthopedic and Spine Specialists board-certified physicians specialize in the treatment of the wide range of injuries that affect school-aged athletes. When surgery is necessary, our pediatric orthopedic physicians will discuss specialized, age-appropriate and minimally invasive surgical options.
Call 214-556-0590 to make an appointment.
Comprehensive services for children from birth through adolescence at three convenient locations: Dallas, Frisco and McKinney.