Competitive Kids More Prone to Arthritis

Published Online: Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The New York Times has reported that children who take part in overly competitive sports run the risk of suffering muscle and joint injuries at a much earlier age than their peers who do not engage in such sports. Doctors in pediatric sports medicine are treating injuries in children that they once saw only in adults. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 3.5 million sports-related injuries in children under age 15 were treated in the United States in 2003. Some of these injuries can cause permanent damage, increasing the risk that these young athletes may suffer arthritis or require extensive surgery as they get older.

Overuse syndrome—from playing the same sport constantly instead of participating in a variety of activities—occurs as a result of repetitive strain on specific tissue and muscle groups. Injuries occur when the muscles and joints are overworked without time for adequate recovery. These injuries can include swimmer's shoulder, little leaguer's elbow, runner's knee, tennis elbow, Achilles tendinitis, and shin splints. These conditions can develop into problems later in life, including chronic arthritis.

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