There are all sorts of knee injuries that kids can sustain and most knee injuries have a single mechanism or cause. There are also those pesky knee conditions or injuries that have no true mechanism and can creep up over time.
Kids are busy running, jumping and cutting with their individual sports and competitions. The knee, a complex joint, can take a beating over time. Without adequate rest and recovery, the knee can show signs of wear and tear. These signs and symptoms usually present as pain, swelling and a decrease of motion. Below we will discuss some of the most common overuse injuries seen in our pediatric patients.
Osgood-Schlatter Disease (OSD) is a painful enlargement of the bump of the shin bone (tibia) just below the knee. This bump is called the tibial tuberosity and is a part of an open growth center . The tendon (patellar tendon) that attaches the kneecap to the shin bone attaches at the tibial tuberosity. Osgood-Schlatter disease is most often seen in children between the ages of 10 and 15 and usually appears during a period of rapid growth.
The symptoms are usually pain with run, jump and twist activities, swelling or bump under the knee/ top of the tibia bone and tenderness over the tibial tuberosity (bump).
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain behind the kneecap. It has been given many names, including patellofemoral disorder, patellar malalignment, runner’s knee, and chondromalacia. This pain is caused by physical and mechanical changes of the knee joint. The pain is generated by improper tracking of the knee cap (patella). This tracking can cause pain and inflammation between the knee cap and the femur, thus the name “patellofemoral” pain.
The symptoms are usually consistent with pain with running and jumping activities, pain with squats, lunges and going up and down stairs and mild swelling.
Jumpers Knee (Patellar Tedinopathy):
Tendons are strong bands of connective tissue that attach muscle to bone. When a tendon is acutely injured it is called a strain. Tendonitis is when a tendon is inflamed. When there are micro-tears in a tendon from repeated injury it is called tendinosis. The term tendinopathy refers to both inflammation and micro-tears. Patellar tendinopathy, also called jumper’s knee, is inflammation in the band of tissue (the patellar tendon) that connects the kneecap (patella) to the shinbone (tibia).
The symptoms are usually consistent with pain with running and jumping, tenderness to the patella tendon, mild swelling and pain with knee motion.
Each one of these conditions can be treated conservatively. That means that with time off, the proper knee brace, ice, ibuprofen and the appropriate physical therapy exercises, this pain will diminish over time. We highly recommend a clinical assessment in order to properly diagnose the condition and outline the proper treatment. A clinical assessment will also rule out any dangerous injuries of the knee. With all of the aforementioned conditions, we expect a good outcome with a more conservative, less evasive treatment protocol.