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Preventing Knee Injuries In Children

August 15, 2018  |  Staff

No parent wants to see their little athlete sitting on the bench, but knee injuries sideline thousands of sports loving children every year. Knee injuries in children and adolescent athletes may be the result of a traumatic injury, such as a sudden fall, or as the result of repetitive overuse. Symptoms including pain, instability, swelling and stiffness should be taken seriously and the medical attention should be sought before further damage can occur.

What Are Common Knee Injuries?


Knee sprains usually involve damage to the ACL and/or MCL. The most serious sprains involve complete tears of one or more of the knee ligaments.

Symptoms of Sprains include:

  • Popping or snapping sound in the knee at the time of injury
  • Pain that seems to come from within the knee, especially with movement
  • Not being able to bear weight on that leg
  • Swelling
  • Knee feels loose or unstable

Fractures and Dislocations

When your doctor diagnoses a fracture, they are referring to a cracked, broken or shattered bone. Children may have trouble moving the bone and are likely to have a lot of pain. Patellar dislocation happens when the knee cap is knocked off to the side of the knee joint, by twisting or some kind of impact. This type of dislocation will sometimes pop back into its normal position by itself, but usually needs to be put back in place by a doctor.

Symptoms of Fractures and Dislocations include:

  • Extreme swelling and pain in the front of the knee
  • Abnormal bulge on the side of the knee
  • Inability to walk on the leg with the affected knee
  • Numbness in the foot
  • No pulses in the foot


Tendonitis happens when a tendon gets irritated or inflamed, typically from repetitive stress on the knee. Most often, patients experience tendonitis when the knee is overused or poor training methods (such as lack of strength exercises or stretching) are practiced. A child with tendonitis might have pain or tenderness when walking, at rest or when bending, extending or lifting a leg.

Symptoms of Tendonitis include:

  • Pain and tenderness at the base of your kneecap
  • Swelling and a burning feeling in the kneecap
  • Kneeling down or getting up from a squat can be especially painful
  • Pain that gets progressively worse

Meniscal Cartilage Tears

A torn meniscus is one of the most common knee injuries. Any activity that causes you to forcefully twist or rotate your knee, especially when putting your full weight on it, can lead to a torn meniscus. Meniscal injuries can occur together with severe sprains, especially those involving the ACL. Meniscal injuries can cause tenderness, tightness and swelling around the front of the knee.

Symptoms of Tears include:

  • Popping sensation
  • Swelling or stiffness
  • Pain, especially when twisting or rotating your knee
  • Difficulty straightening your knee fully
  • Feeling as though your knee is locked in place when you try to move it

Articular Cartilage Injuries

Cartilage is a connective tissue found in many parts of the body. Although it is a tough and flexible material, it is relatively easy to damage. When cartilage in a joint is damaged, it can cause severe pain, inflammation, and some degree of disability - this is known as articular cartilage.

Symptoms of Articular Cartilage Injuries include:

  • Swelling
  • Inability to move the joint
  • Stiffness
  • Catching ("locked knee")
  • Popping sensations with knee movement


Knee bursitis is inflammation of a small fluid-filled sac (bursa) located near the knee joint. Bursae reduce friction and cushion pressure points between your bones and the tendons, muscles and skin near your joints. Knee bursitis causes pain and can limit your mobility. Treatment for knee bursitis often includes a combination of self-care practices and doctor-administered treatments to alleviate pain and inflammation.

Symptoms of Bursitis include:

  • Varying degrees of swelling, warmth, tenderness, and redness
  • Pain when you move or even at rest
  • Increased pain when kneeling
  • Stiffness and pain with walking
  • Limited range of motion of the knee

The experienced and dedicated sports medicine doctors and surgeons at Ventura Orthopedics are here for you. If you are concerned about sports related injuries affecting your child, talk to the experts at Ventura Orthopedics today. Call us at 800-698-1280 to schedule an appointment.

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