Whether your child participates in after-school sports or just loves the monkey bars, some of the most common injuries they will have are knee related. Most children will recover from a knee injury within a few days, but it's important to know what the most common knee injuries are and when to see a professional.
Check out our list of the top 5 knee injuries in kids and teens.
The knee is a complex joint made up of ligaments, tendons, cartilage and bones. Sprains involve damage specifically to the ligaments that make up the knee. Most sprains are caused by damage to the anterior cruciate ligament or the medial collateral ligament, commonly referred to as the ACL and MCL. Tearing one of these ligaments completely can result in much more serious injuries.
Common signs of a knee sprain include:
- Swelling around the knee
- Pain in the knee when moving
- Inability to stand or put weight on that leg
Strains, much like sprains, are a very common knee injury in children and young adults. However, knee strains are caused by damage to a muscle or tendon within the knee. These injuries are common in sports such as soccer, where sharp turns, cuts and pivots place a huge strain on the muscles and tendons that make up the knee. If your child has bruising around the knee and similar symptoms to a sprain, they may have experienced a knee strain.
3. Cartilage Tears
Cartilage tears in the knee often happen in conjunction with knee sprains. They can occur when making side-to-side movements or when rapidly changing speed, and they are regularly accompanied with tenderness, swelling, and a feeling of tightness around the knee. In some cases, a piece of cartilage can break off from the end of a bone and cause long-term knee pain. Though these injuries can require treatment in adults, cartilage tears may heal on their own in children and teens.
Knee fractures are characterized as broken or cracked bones in the knee and are usually accompanied by a dislocated patella, or knee cap. Simpler fractures can be corrected with a cast or a splint, but fractures accompanied by a dislocated patella often require surgery to fix. Children with knee fractures often experience particularly intense knee pain. The Orthopedic Institute can help your child recover from a knee fracture, regardless of the severity.
If your child is particularly active, they may be prone to tendonitis. Tendonitis occurs when the tendons in the knee become irritated, and it is often caused by overuse of the tendons, poor training or a combination of the two. Your child may have tendonitis if their knee hurts when walking, resting, bending or lifting. Treatment for tendonitis can involve physical therapy, medication or surgery.
Regardless of what knee injury your child has experienced, you should schedule a visit with a physician if they are experiencing significant pain, swelling, tenderness, and redness or if the injury is accompanied by a fever.