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When to sideline the pint-size player

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When your little soccer star injures his hip or groin during a game – it may be smart to sideline him, rather than let him play through the pain.

Gregory Klingenstein, MD, Virtua orthopedic surgeon, advises: “Injury to this area in a young boy may be a sign of a congenital hip abnormality such as hip impingement – more common in boys. This occurs when the bones of the hip joint do not fit together correctly. It often develops from increased stress on growing hips and can predispose a child to injury.”

A tell-tale sign of hip impingement is when a young athlete has trouble lifting his legs during sports or has restricted range of motion when using his legs.

Chronic hip pain or frequent injury is another sign and should always be evaluated by an orthopedic specialist to determine if an underlying structural problem exists and if treatment is needed.

“Early detection is key,” says Christopher Carey, MD, Virtua orthopedic surgeon. "It enables adolescents to have the problem corrected before it gets worse. When hip impingement goes undiagnosed, some individuals end up needing a hip replacement in their 50s or even earlier because of the repetitive damage to the area.”

Go for the gold with variety
Dr. Klingenstein also suggests that children and adolescents play a variety of activities throughout the year instead of concentrating on one sport.

"If you swim all year long, you have a greater chance of hurting your shoulder from wear and tear," he says. "Play different sports during the year so you don't put increased stress on the same joints over and over."