Most kids today have a social calendar that astonishes me. However, I am always pleased to see that most of these children are involved in a sport. It is my belief that being involved in sports contributes to the well-being of young people in many ways. Not only do they learn about how to be a team player, the health benefits of being active help to encouraging a long life of personal fitness. Parents of active children will often hear them complain of knee pain, especially in the preteen and teenage years. It is important that as a parent you don’t disregard these complaints as “growing pains.”
It is estimated that approximately 30 million children and teenagers participate in organized sports each year in the United States. These young athletes are particularly vulnerable to overuse injuries related to sports due to improper technique, inappropriate training, poorly fitted equipment and muscle imbalance and weakness. Most often, knee pain in preteen and teenage athletes will be diagnosed as a condition called Osgood-Schlatters. The disease is named after the two physicians who discovered it.
This can be a painful dysfunction and usually happens because the major tendon in the knee cannot keep up with the bone growth for kids in this age group (9 – 14 yrs.). The pain will be noted to occur on the tibia just below the kneecap (medically known as the tibial tuberosity). When bone growth outpaces the ability of the tendon to keep up, coupled with demands placed on it from jumping, running and other rigors of sports, the tendon will pull away from the bone. This causes inflammation and intense pain.
Conservative treatment is best. A knowledgeable physical therapist will immediately treat the pain and control the swelling. Additionally, the use of an over- the-counter anti-inflammatory like Advil or Mortrin will be effective in managing pain and swelling. The child’s sports routine will need to be modified for several weeks until the symptoms calm down. The physical therapist should work closely with the child’s parents and coach/trainer to ensure that they are educated about the best way to manage the child’s injury moving forward. A careful analysis of the child’s gate, foot mechanics, posture and patellofemoral joint are important. The therapist can look at the child’s gear, including shoes, and protective equipment. They may suggest modifications to both. Finally, it is paramount that the therapist adequately prepares the child to go back to their sport by educating them about proper stretching, exercises and sport specific body mechanics that will significantly decrease and in most cases eliminate a reoccurrence of the injury.
Ok parents, now that you know that your child’s knee pain is not to be ignored, please make sure you get to a great physical therapist that is determined to do ALL that is necessary to treat and educate your most precious assets (s)! Remember to use our “Find a Knee Specialist” option at www.myachingknee.com.
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