Sports Medicine

Testing 1, 2, 3: Diagnosing Pediatric Sports Injuries

Treatment for sports injuries starts with a proper diagnosis. And injuries aren’t always what they appear to be. For example, ankle swelling might look like a simple sprain, but there could be fractures present, as well.

To gauge the nature and extent of a child’s injury, OIC uses a number of different tests and imaging procedures. Here are just a few.


The Mechanical Approach

  • Healthcare providers use palpation—feeling the injured area with their fingers or hands—to determine the size and location of a possible injury.
  • They might also do a range-of-motion test to see how far your child can extend an injured area.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan

MRI scans are a non-invasive way to diagnosis soft-tissue injuries, such as muscle, ligament, and tendon injuries. They are often used to diagnose knee and shoulder problems.

During an MRI:

  • The patient is centered inside a round machine containing a large magnet.
  • The magnet stimulates protons within the body to create a detailed, 3D image.
  • Remaining very still is important, so that the image remains clear.
  • You might want to ask for ear protection your child can wear to reduce noise.



X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation that, when passed through a person’s body, creates an image of what’s inside. High-density tissues show up better on X-rays than low-density tissues, which is why this test is useful for determining bone fractures.

During an X-ray:

  • The patient is placed between an X-ray machine and an X-ray detector.
  • X-rays pass through the body and are absorbed differently by different tissues.
  • An image is created based on shadows formed by these tissues.


Computerized Tomography (CT) Scan

CT scans are computerized X-rays. They produce more detailed images than traditional X-rays, which makes them good for imaging fractures as well as joint, cartilage, and tendon injuries.

During a CT scan:

  • The patient lies down on a special bed.
  • The bed moves through an X-ray tube that rotates.
  • The digital X-rays create 3-dimensional images of the patient’s organs, tissues, or bones.