Adolescent Knee Pain
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What is adolescent knee pain?
Adolescent knee pain refers to chronic pain in the front and centre part of the knee, which is often experienced by teenagers. It is a common condition for teens who play sports.
There are many underlying conditions which can contribute to adolescent knee pain, as well as overuse, and alignment problems.
It is common for adolescent knee pain to develop in teens who are otherwise active and healthy. It is understood that girls are more likely to develop adolescent knee pain than boys.
What causes adolescent knee pain?
Among the conditions which can contribute to adolescent knee pain are; patellar tendonitis, Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, patellofemoral stress syndrome and quadriceps tendonitis. But there are also several other ways in which teens can develop adolescent knee pain. Inflexible thigh muscles can place excessive pressure on the knee joint, and other potential causes include abnormal hip rotation, and improper technique when playing sport or training.
Sports which involve a lot of pulling (tractional) or twisting (torsional) forces may worsen the condition.
Symptoms of adolescent knee pain
The main symptoms of adolescent knee pain include; difficulties putting weight on one or both legs; pain which increases over time; knee pain which is felt during flexion; and a 'popping' sound in the knee which is heard during flexion.
In general, symptoms start to present themselves as a dull ache which is felt behind and/or around the kneecap. The popping or cracking sound is typically heard when performing actions such as jumping, squatting or using stairs. These type of actions may also cause pain.
Symptoms such as severe pain, rashes, warmth or redness in the knee area may require an urgent evaluation conducted by a paediatric orthopaedist, who will be able to diagnose the cause of the knee pain and advise on appropriate treatment options.
Treatment options for adolescent knee pain
Diagnosis of adolescent knee pain is usually made via a physical examination conducted by a doctor. The doctor will also check your medical history, and ask you some specific questions about the symptoms you are feeling. These questions can be related to the severity of the pain, the duration of the pain, and things which can aggravate or alleviate it. Xrays and MRI scans are often used in helping investigate cases.
The main treatment options for adolescent knee pain are usually focused on rest and a temporary ceasing of activities which aggravate the condition. Ice treatment is also effective, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) such as ibuprofen can be used to decrease inflammation and pain.
Physiotherapy is another treatment path which has proven to be effective in addressing adolescent knee pain. This can include exercise programmes which are designed to stretch the muscles around the knee joint, as well as routines which are conducive to strengthening the muscle groups in the lower body and core in order to improve stability. Aside from treating adolescent knee pain, physiotherapy can help teens to return to sports and perform better.
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