Children generally should not have musculoskeletal pain or difficulties performing physical tasks. If they do, then it is important to have them assessed to identify the cause of their pain/difficulties. Common reasons why children may require physiotherapy treatment include;
- acute injury at sport/play – assessment and appropriate treatment ensures that the child recovers fully from the injury. An untreated acute sporting injury could lead to a recurrent/chronic injury that prevents them participating in their favourite sports/activities or lead to longer standing injuries. An acute injury should be treated using RICE (see Acute sporting injuries). If after 24-48 hours the injury is not showing signs of improvement then it is important to have the injury assessed and diagnosed.
- growth spurts – this can greatly affect some childrens musculoskeletal system, especially if they are quite active. These types of injuries present in kids as young’s as 7-8 years of age, through to the late teenage years, depending on when the child goes through their peak growth periods, and what level of activity they are participating in. Common conditions during this time include Osgood-Schlatter’s (affecting the patellar tendon insertion) and Sever’s lesion (affecting the Achilles tendon insertion). Both conditions are managed conservatively through education, stretching, soft tissue techniques/manual therapy/strapping/bracing and activity modification.
- post fracture recovery – bone fractures are common in kids, and sometimes the joint stiffness/muscle weakness that is a result of the immobilisation in the cast can be quite concerning for kids once the cast is removed. They usually just need a little bit of guidance and re-assurance to get a joint moving again and re-gain use and strength in the limb. This generally involves the prescription of some specific exercises to perform for a few weeks.
- poor posture – this is an ever growing area of concern with children due to the technology in our lives which encourages poor posture and inactivity. Poor posture adds abnormal and prolonged loads and stresses to a growing musculoskeletal system which may or may not result in pain, but does impact on long term health of our tissue.
- headaches – there are many causes of headaches, one of which could be musculoskeletal. This could be from poor posture in sitting or standing, carrying around heavy school bags or from an injury to the neck/shoulder.
As a mother of two, Kristen understands the importance of kids feeling comfortable in a treatment setting so that they feel heard and understood, and that for some kids musculoskeletal pain can be alarming and scary, whist other kids just want to get back to playing their favourite sport without pain as quickly as possible.