Chronic pain in the front and center of the knee is common among teens who enjoy sports.

Knee pain in the adolescent can encompass a myriad of underlying conditions. Most often, various forms of tendinitis and apophysitis are the cause. Examples include Osgood-Schlatter’s disease, patellar tendonitis, quadriceps tendonitis and patellofemoral stress syndrome.

Problems in alignment as well as overuse can cause increased pressure on the kneecap. The pressure can pull the kneecap out of its groove, causing pain. Abnormal hip rotation, improper training methods and inflexible thigh muscles can all contribute to stress on the knee joint.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Gradual increase in pain intensity
  • Difficulty bearing weight on leg
  • Popping sounds in knee during flexion
  • Pain during flexion

What are my child’s treatment options?

To determine the cause of the knee pain, your child’s doctor will likely request an X-ray, while also testing the knee’s flexibility, strength and range of motion.

Medical Treatments

To relieve swelling and pain, apply ice to the tender area and give your child NSAIDs (examples include Ibuprofen and Aleve). Have your child refrain from activities that contribute to the pain. If your child is obese, the doctor may recommend losing weight as a means of reducing knee pressure. Braces, orthotics and a knee sleeve may also ease the pain.

Once the pain and swelling are under control, adhere to an exercise program prescribed by your child’s doctor to normalize the thigh muscle and build hamstring flexibility and strength. Have your child return to sports and other recreational activities gradually.

To prevent the recurrence of knee pain, make sure your child wears shoes, follows a stretching regimen, especially after play or workouts, and refrains from activities that exacerbate knee pain.

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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