Sunday 21 January 2018

"I operated on 15-year old inter-county minor who had both hips done' - Top surgeon says overtraining is forcing teens under the knife

Mr Pat Carton. Image via Garrett FitzGerald Photography
Mr Pat Carton. Image via Garrett FitzGerald Photography
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A leading orthopaedic surgeon has warned “gruelling” training sessions for growing numbers of teenage GAA, soccer and rugby players are forcing them to have hip surgery at a very young age.

Patrick Carton, a specialist in orthopaedic hip and groin surgery at the Whitfield clinic, Waterford, said he is concerned at the amount of training 12- to 17-year-olds are having to do for field sports.

“I operated on a 15-year-old (last week) who had to have both hips done. He is on a GAA minor county panel,” he said.

“You could train for one hour, three to four times a week and do no harm. But many are training four times a week at full intensity where they are doing lots of gruelling running, twisting and turning and lots of weights.

“They are coming home feeling broken and are stiff for the next two days. Then there is a problem.”

Mr Carton’s experience has allowed him to develop a ground-breaking keyhole surgery technique to repair damage caused to hip joints from years of intense sports and the findings are published in the current edition of ‘International Journal of Hip Preservation Surgery’.

The ‘Labral Cuff Refixation’ technique, which he has demonstrated to surgeons internationally, allows the removal of harmful bone spurs that can result in arthritis, while protecting vital soft tissue structures that previous techniques may damage.

He has treated a variety of injuries suffered by senior hurling stars, including Tipperary’s James Barry and Richie Power from Kilkenny.

Mr Carton said the effects of extreme training regimes mean he is seeing sports people as young as 19, although there is a trend for later presentation now when they are in their 20s, which can mean injuries are not picked up early enough.

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