From jumper's knee to a torn ACL, knee pain is a real pain! Common knee injuries in kids and teens include:
- Sprains: when a ligament stretches or tears; for example, an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or medial collateral ligament (MCL) tear
- Strains: when a muscle or tendon tears part or all of the way
- Tendonitis: when a tendon gets irritated or inflamed, usually from overuse or poor training (for example, in jumper's knee)
- Meniscal tears: when the cartilage between the upper and lower leg bones (the menisci) tears
- Fractures: when a bone breaks
- Dislocation of the patella (kneecap): when the kneecap slides out of place
- Osgood-Schlatter disease: of the tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shinbone
- Osteochondritis dissecans: when a small piece of bone in the knee loses blood supply and breaks off
- Bursitis: swelling of one of the fluid filled sacs that cushion the knee
To diagnose a knee injury, health care providers ask about how the injury happened and what symptoms it is causing.
The health care provider will do a physical exam that includes pressing on the knee and legs and moving them in certain ways. These tests can show what part of the knee is injured.
Imaging tests done sometimes used include:
- X-rays to check for injuries to the bones
- A CT scan or MRI to look inside the knee
Treatment for a knee injury depends on the cause. Some knee injuries just need RICE:
- Compression (with an elastic bandage)
- Elevation (raising the injured knee)
Other knee injuries may need bracing, physical therapy or even surgery.
To help prevent knee injuries:
- Make sure to wear the recommended protective equipment for sports (such as knee pads and shin guards).
- Make sure to wear supportive athletic shoes that are in good condition.
- During workouts, always warm up and cool down.
- Do regular strength training to support muscles, and stretching or yoga to improve flexibility.
- When jumping, bend the knees while landing. This takes pressure off the ACL and prevents injury.
- If cutting laterally or pivoting frequently (like in soccer), crouch and bend at the knees and hips to reduce the chances of an ACL injury.
- For athletes who play just one sport, conditioning and training year-round even if it's at a lower intensity than during the competitive season can help them stay in shape and make an injury less likely.
Interested in getting involved in an injury prevention program? Dayton Children's offers Sportsmetrics prevention and sports enhancement program. Learn more!
what else should I know?
If your child's knee hurts, it is important to know why. Take your child to a health care provider to find out what's causing the pain and to get treatment.
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