Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are common problems for adult athletes. But child athletes are also at risk for RSIs.

A recent newspaper article noted that girls under 14 and boys under 16 are actually quite vulnerable to RSI, especially if they play sports throughout the year.

…Open growth plates are the “weakest link” in a growing child’s musculoskeletal system.

[Dr. Michael] Gish is a sports medicine specialist with orthopedic surgical coverage for Lancaster General Health’s Level II Trauma Center.

He said overuse injuries are being seen at ever-younger ages, and he worries about the long-term implications: an overuse injury in a child may lead the child to develop osteoarthritis as a young adult.”

On a normal sports schedule kids play sports for a single season and then have several months to rest. Year-round clubs have begun reversing this trend. However, as a parent it may be a good idea to ensure that your child stays on a more traditional schedule. Though there is a temptation to think that this may hamper his or her athletic career, the truth is you will wind up protecting it.

You should also take any complaints of pain seriously. Some children are showing signs of these injuries because they’re being pushed to “play through the pain.” Others may need to be watched closely because they won’t want to self-report: children can be bitten by a hyper-competitive bug too, and need their parents to encourage them to take it easy when necessary.

If your child does show signs of pain, get your child checked out by a doctor to ensure that RSI isn’t the culprit.

You may also want to offer your child some immediate pain relief. Extreme PR is a safe topical pain reliever that has no side-effects. It is designed to help athletes of all ages relieve joint and muscle pain, and it can be a safe alternative to Tylenol or Advil while you’re working with your doctor.