Peri-epiphyseal and Overuse Injuries in Adolescent Athletes

Sports Health. 2009 May;1(3):201-11. doi: 10.1177/1941738109334214.


Context: Overuse injuries of the musculoskeletal system in immature athletes are commonly seen in medical practice.

Evidence acquisition: An analysis of published clinical, outcome, and biomechanical studies of adolescent epiphyseal and overuse injuries was performed through 2008 to increase recognition and provide treatment recommendations.

Results: Adolescent athletes can sustain physeal and bony stress injuries. Recovery and return to play occur more swiftly if such injuries are diagnosed early and immobilized until the patient is pain-free, typically about 4 weeks for apophyseal and epiphyseal overuse injuries. Certain epiphyseal injuries have prolonged symptoms with delayed treatment, including those involving the bones in the hand, elbow, and foot. If such injuries are missed, prolonged healing and significant restrictions in athletic pursuits may occur.

Conclusion: Some of these injuries are common to all weightbearing sports and are therefore widely recognized. Several are common in gymnastics but are rarely seen in other athletes. Early recognition and treatment of these conditions lead to quicker recovery and so may prevent season-ending, even career-ending, events from occurring.

Keywords: adolescent athletes; apophysitis; epihyseolysis; epiphysitis; overuse.