More than 38 million children and teenagers in the United States are involved in at least one sports team. Whether in middle school or high school, every student athlete is required to have a sports physical before their season can begin. While sports physicals may seem unnecessary, they are crucial to ensure your child is healthy enough to participate in a sport. If your child is nervous about the sports physical and unsure what to expect, you may be able to ease their mind with the following information.

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What Is A Sports Physical?

Each doctor is different, but every physician will want to record your child’s height, weight, blood pressure, pulse and heart rate. He or she will then take a look at your child’s eyes, ears, nose and throat. Finally, the doctor will take a look at your child’ joint flexibility, mobility, spinal alignment and posture. This part of the examination will also include a review of your child’s medical history.

You should fill the doctor in if your child is suffering from any of the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Dizziness of spells of fainting
  • High blood pressure
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain when exercising
  • Diabetes
  • Continuous fatigue
  • Difficult seeing
  • Skin problems
  • Liver or kidney problems
  • Heart problems (such as a murmur or abnormal heart beat)
  • Eating disorders
  • Epilepsy
  • Injuries to the bone, joint or spine


You should take this time to fill the doctor in on any recent hospitalizations or surgeries your child’s had since he or she was last seen. This includes any broken bones, fractures, dislocations or concussions that your child’s suffered. The sports physical is also a good time to talk to the doctor about any allergies your child has.


When Does Your Child Need A Sports Physical?

Typically sports physicals are done about six to eight weeks before the start of the sports season. This is done so that any conditions your child is diagnosed with can be properly treated before the season begins. Try to remember that a sports physical focuses on your child’s well being as it relates to sports and does not substitute an annual physical.


How Long Will A Sports Physical Take?

Typically sports physicals take between 20 and 30 minutes. If you are able to visit an urgent care facility, such as Medical City Children’s Urgent Care, be sure to check in online beforehand so you can avoid the waiting room.


How Family History Impacts Your Child

If you are visiting a new doctor, he or she will want to know about any serious illnesses within your immediate family. Diseases that are known to be hereditary, such as heart disease and diabetes, are especially important to note. You need to let the doctor know if any family members have suffered sudden death before the age of 50.

Patterns of illness within your family can help the doctor understand any conditions your child may have. In fact, most doctors consider the medical history portion of your child’s exam to be the most important. While family history is important, it is rare that your answers will prevent your child from playing in her or her sport.


Discussing Your Child’s Medications

Make sure you let you child’s doctor know of any medication he or she is currently taking. You should note even something as minor as a daily vitamin or aspirin.

Your child’s doctor will likely offer training tips to keep him or her healthy and active the entire season.


Why Is A Sports Physical Important For Your Child?

Before your child begins his or her sports season, a sports physical can help you determine if your child has any health problems that could interfere with his or her season.

For example, if your child is preparing for soccer season, but suffers from asthma attacks, his or her doctor may prescribe an updated dosage for your child’s asthma inhaler or may prescribe a different type of asthma inhaler all together.


What To Do If There’s A Problem With Your Child’s Sports Physical

There are instances where a sports physical doesn’t go as planned. When this happens, your child may need to see a specialist, depending on the issue. Most specialists will be able to work with your child to treat any problems he or she is experiencing.

Sports physicals exist so that your child can have a safe season. It is very rare that your child would get completely disqualified from playing sports.


Does Your Child Still Have To Get A Regular Physical?

Most people want to know: if my child gets a sports physical, does he or she still need to get a regular annual physical? The short answer? Yes. While getting both physicals may seem like overkill, there is a difference between the two. Unfortunately, between 30 and 88 percent of young children use their sports physical as their only annual checkup.

Sports physicals tend to focus more on your well being and are typically less extensive than regular physical exams. However, during a regular physical exam, your child’s doctor will want to know about things that aren’t sports related.


How To Prepare Your Child For A Sports Physical

Doctor appointments of any kind can be intimidating, especially for young children. Reviewing what he or she can expect at a sports physical can help alleviate any concerns your child has. Let your child know to wear comfortable clothes to the physical so they can move around as necessary.

It is also important to encourage your child to be honest with the doctor. Sometimes children are nervous that if they’re honest with the doctor, they will risk their chance of playing in the upcoming season.


At Medical City Children’s Urgent Care, our kid-friendly physicians offer convenient sports physicals 7 days a week – even after hours and on weekends at 6 locations across the DFW area.


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Disclaimer: Patients’ health can vary. Always consult with a medical professional before taking medication, making health-related decisions or deciding if medical advice is right for you or your child.