Common Childhood Knee Injuries and Their Treatment
Dr. Fred Cushner
Israel’s Insall Scott Kelly
Institute for Orthopaedics
in addition to all the other concerns that teachers and parents
have about children, there is another cause for worry: one of
the populations increasingly suffering knee ailments
is children, due largely to their growing participation in sports
like basketball, soccer and hockey.
Overuse injuries are the most common. These include bursitis,
tendinitis, or sprains and strains. All occur with repetitive
activities or repeated or prolonged pressure on the knee. Stair
climbing, bicycle riding, jogging, or jumping are activities
that can all lead to irritation or inflammation.
One of the most common knee overuse ailments for children, seen
usually more prominently among boy athletes aged 11-15, but
now increasingly seen in girls, and at earlier ages, is Osgood-Schlatter
Osgood-Schlatter disease occurs during a child’s rapid growth
years. Since girls begin developing earlier, Osgood-Schlatter
begins in active girls between the ages of 8 and 13. The problem
consists of an inflammation at the top of the shinbone where
the patellar tendon attaches to a bony prominence.
Symptoms of Osgood-Schlatter disease include:
-Pain and tenderness in front of the knee
-Mild swelling just below the kneecap
-A bump at the bottom of the knee or top of the shin
Osgood-Schlatter disease can be exacerbated by activities such
as running or gymnastics. However, Osgood-Schlatter disease
usually goes away with time. Only rarely does it persist beyond
the growing stage.
Home treatment focuses on preventing symptoms and using first-aid
to reduce pain when symptoms occur. For treatment, remember
the acronym “RICE”: Rest, Icing the area for 20 minutes three
times per day, Compressing the area with a bandage and Elevating
the leg. Decreased activity is also suggested. If the child
ignores or plays through the pain, the disease can worsen. Surgery
is only considered as a last resort.
With attention and care, we can make sure that overuse injuries
in children are avoided, and that children do not grow up to
become part of this startling statistic: 4.1 million adults
seek medical attention for knee problems each year.#
Fred D. Cushner has been an ankle and knee specialist at Beth
Israel’s Insall Scott Kelly Institute for Orthopaedics in New
York City since 1995.