Does your child often complain about knee pain? Take a look at the common causes of knee pain in children. Accurate and timely diagnosis helps prevent worsening of the situation. Read ahead, to know what makes knees weak…
Knee injuries are quite common in growing children. Although children are more susceptible to sports injuries, other types of knee problems can occur in children and can make the knees weak. Weak knees can result in knee pain and leg pain which can restrict the movement of the child. Grown up children, being stronger, often experience severe injuries as more force is involved in the sports activities they perform. Apart from injuries and infections, musculoskeletal disorders, restless leg syndrome, and certain other disorders can lead to pain in knees and legs. There exist several causes of knee pain in children. A few common causes are explained below.
Knee Pain in Children
Anterior Knee Pain
Pain in the front of the knee under the kneecap can result in restricted movement of the leg. Sore and swollen knee, due to tendon or cartilage inflammation, can make the child restless. Tightness of muscles in the adjoining structures like hamstrings or quadriceps in the thigh can also lead to knee pain.
Osgood Schlatters Disease (OSD)
OSD can affect the knee of the girls between the age 8-13 years and the boys between 11-15 years. The children are usually diagnosed with OSD during growth spurt. OSD affects one or both the knees and as a result of this, inflammation, tenderness and pain is experienced over the tibia, a bone in the lower leg. Normally, this does not require any treatment.
It is believed that overstretching of the large powerful muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) results in Osgood-Schlatter disease. The pain and swelling often goes away with the passage of time. Application of ice and pain relievers can help lower the pain. Use of an elastic bandage (compression of the paining area) can offer great relief.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Lack of blood to the bone and the adjoining cartilage in the knee joint is called osteochondritis dissecans. Mild recurrent injuries, or disturbances during growth spurts, can lead to OCD. Usually, a small part of cartilage gets affected which results in restricted movement of the knee, irritability and pain. Sometimes, it may even lead to locking of knee, extreme pain and swelling. In case of severe symptoms, children are required to undergo arthroscopic surgery. Loose cartilage and bone tissue is removed during the surgery.
The knee cap or patella can get dislocated due to direct fall on the knee cap. Overuse, injuries, may result in damaged knee cartilage. All this can give rise to swelling of the knee joint and pain around the patella. The child experiences pain and cannot move the knee joint. Usually, the displaced patella often moves back into place without any kind of treatment. Immobilization of the knee is essential to prevent worsening of the situation. After recovery, the child needs to perform knee strengthening exercises regularly.
Parapatellar Knee Pain
The pain in the region surrounding the patella in both knees is a characteristic symptom of this disease. Overuse of the joint (particularly in runners), or overload over the joint, leads to this syndrome. It can also affect inactive children. Using the stairs, climbing hills and even walking on uneven surfaces may result in worsening of patellofemoral pain. The pain may become severe after running, bending knees, jumping, etc. If overlooked, the situation may worsen.
The cartilage layer covering the posterior area of the patella may get severely damaged. Activities that involve bending of knees should be strictly avoided. Painkillers like ibuprofen can be taken after consulting a doctor. After checking the symptoms, the doctor may prescribe specific medications to lower the inflammation and pain.
There exist numerous other causes of knee pain in children. Some common ones are listed below.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Bone cancer
- Dislocated knee, fractures
- Torn cartilage
- Bursitis, inflammation of the bursae
- Tendonitis, inflammation of the tendons
- Injury to collateral and cruciate ligaments
- Obesity, being overweight
- Weakness due to diseases and surgeries
- Nutritional deficiency
- Use of ill-fitting shoes
- Wrong posture
- Systemic lupus erythematosus, autoimmune diseases
- Baker’s cyst
- Tears of the meniscus
- Maintaining body weight around the average weight for corresponding age and height helps prevent injuries and pain.
- Warm up before exercise and sports is essential.
- Healthy diet and regular exercise can make the muscles around the knee stronger.
- Playing carefully, avoiding sudden jolting movements, taking care of knee wounds immediately, can help avoid complications.
- Use of proper equipment (of correct size) while playing can help prevent injuries.
- Use of correct and fit shoes is essential during sports activities.
- The coach should not neglect child knee pain and should not encourage the child to play despite pain.
Symptoms and treatment of knee pain in children may vary according to its causes. Knowing the common causes of knee pain in children is therefore very important. Quick diagnosis promotes fast recovery. Normal and pain-free use of the affected knee is possible with proper and prompt treatment.