MAPLE VALLEY -- More than 3 million kids under the age of 14 are treated for sports injuries each year, according to the Centers of Disease Control.
"I threw and I just felt a pop in my elbow and there was a shock of pain that went up my arm and I was like ok it's obviously not good," said Denham Patricelli, a Tahoma High School football and track & field star.
Patricelli experienced a near career-ending injury throwing the javelin during competition. The teenager underwent Tommy John surgery, which is an intensive reconstruction graft to replace his torn ligament. It took a full year of physical therapy to rehabilitate his arm.
“We're taking our bodies to the limit even as teenagers. We want to go to the next level and play in college,” said Patricelli.
Seattle Children's says it's seeing more overuse injuries among young athletes. They account for two-thirds of the injuries the hospital treats.
Doctors say minors can be more susceptible to injuries, as their bodies and joints develop.
“People need to remember there’s a difference from being sore and being hurt. If you’re waking up in pain and not able to do normal everyday things you really should get checked to make sure something more severe isn’t going on,” said Dr. John Lockhart, a Sports Medicine & Orthopedic Attending at Seattle Children’s.
As for Patricelli, his elbow feels better than even before and he just accepted a scholarship to throw the javelin at the University of Washington. But after his injury, he now knows the risks of being a high-level athlete.
Doctors say over-use injuries are preventable if you take the necessary steps. Dr. Lockhart says the number one way to prevent these injuries is pre-season conditioning. Warming up and stretching before and after competition is also a great way to prevent injuries.