How do I know if my child’s sports injury is serious?

Jaspal R. Singh, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
In general, signs that your child’s sport injury could be serious are:
  • pain that doesn’t slowly improve over 5-7 days
  • persistent swelling
  • excessive bruising
Andre Grant
Andre Grant on behalf of Duke Medicine
Orthopedic Surgery
Unfortunately, bumps, bruises, and breaks are sometimes a result of being active, particularly among young athletes who train a lot. Encourage your kids, regardless of their ages, to listen to their bodies—and not to ignore or discount even vague symptoms of an injury just to be able to play in that big game or compete in an event.
Athletes of all ages sometimes need to be reminded that the body needs to rest—and that what seems to be a minor ache or pain that they try to "work through” now could be exacerbated and turn into a major problem later.
Ask your kids to let you (and their coach or trainer, when applicable) know when something doesn't feel right, and get them to the doctor promptly if there is any obvious deformity of the upper or lower extremity, an inability to bear weight, or any significant pain or swelling that hasn't resolved over a few days.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.